Lake Saint Louis Decides to Put Half Cent Sales Tax on August Ballot
The board of aldermen agreed that the tax needed a sunset clause.
At Tuesday night's public work session, the Lake Saint Louis Board of Aldermen agreed to ask voters for a half-cent capital improvement sales tax on the August ballot.
Ward 3's Richard Morris said that he didn't think that people would vote for a new half cent sales tax.
Vennard said that the last time the city asked for the sales tax, it lost by only 50 votes. "And we only ran one ad," Vennard said.
Vennard disagreed with Morris' insistance on cutting property taxes to make up for the new sales tax. "Tell them (the voters) the entire truth. It makes a significant impact on our budget. We have not taxed to our ceiling. Most of the other taxing entities are at their ceiling. (Because of that) we are losing $300,000 a year."
"Go out and tell your constituents the truth," Vennard said. "We haven't been at our ceiling since 2009."
Markworth told the board that the sales tax money would be a boost to the city's parks. The city used to get a significant amount of money from developers for parks improvement, he said. When developments were plotted, the city required developers to pay $900 per single family lot for parks improvements, but that source of funding has dried up.
Morris said that he didn't like the idea of the parks tax money going to pay for the new ballfield lights at Founders Park. "I don’t like this business that it’s all going to one park for lights," Morris said.
Parks Director Darren Noelken said that the light, previously estimated at $500,000 could be considerably less with some new quotes that have come in, and there is a possibility of a lease-to-own deal.
Noelken said that the lighting system is old and will eventually fail. "It would be nice to have money in place to replace them." If not, he said, the city would have to make decisions about cutting programs or reducing numbers of residents that programs would be able to serve.
Mayor Mike Potter suggested that a sunset, or expiration clause on the tax would be a positive message for voters, showing that the board is confident that voters will be pleased enough with the results to come back in ten years and re-authorize it.
City Administrator Paul Markworth asked the board about the wording for the issue on the ballot. Ward 3 Alderman George Rich suggested "for maintenance of roads and maintenance and improvements for the park system."
Ward 2 Alderman Karen Vennard suggested adding "and possible other infrastructure improvements" so that items like stormwater improvements might benefit from the funds.
Rich responded that many voters would see that as too vague, possibly funding projects that they didn't approve of, and consquently vote no.
Markworth said that he would have the wording ready for the bill approving the election at the next board meeting.