Sales tax increase to be part of LSL August ballot
By: Michael R. Smith
A sales tax increase to fund streets and parks improvements will go before Lake Saint Louis voters on the Aug. 6 ballot after the city’s Board of Aldermen approved the proposal during its March 18 meeting.
If voters approve the proposal it would add approximately $1.3 million a year to the city’s accounts for maintaining roads and parks. The tax would expire in 10 years without voter renewal.
LSL City Administrator Paul Markworth said the city will put $900,000 of the new revenue each year to road improvements. The balance of $400,000 will go for upkeep of the city’s parks.
One complication the board considered in approving the measure is that state law requires a line on the ballot stating that funds could be used to reduce city indebtedness.
Ward 3 alderman Richard Morris explained, “There’s some legal language required by the state when we put a sales tax before the public for their possible approval.” That language says the sales tax can be used for “the retirement of debt under previously authorized bonded indebtedness.”
Ward 1 alderman Ralph Sidebottom said it was important that voters understand “the actual tax and what we’ll use it for.”
Aldermen said they have no plans for any of the new funds to go to debt reduction.
They added to the ballot an explanation that the funds will be used for “the operation and maintenance of capital improvements such as asphalt and concrete streets, park trails, pavilions, playgrounds, restrooms, recreation fields, and other park improvements.”
Proposition P, the tentative name to the proposal, would add a half-cent sales tax to retail goods sold in the city. If approved it would bring the city’s sales tax equal with the rate in O’Fallon and St. Peters. The current LSL sales tax is 1.5-percent.
Markworth said the new funds are necessary because city bonds issued in 2006 for road improvements have been depleted. He said that LSL could spend $700,000 a year to maintain the city’s streets in their current condition.
He said that developers’ fees paid for much of park maintenance. However, with home building down now the funds for parks have been greatly reduced. Along with regular park maintenance LSL would like to upgrade some park restrooms and build new trails.