Reed to bump up funding request for public safety

CITY HALL – Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed plans to seek an additional $11.5 million for body cameras and for the violence prevention program Cure Violence.

When the board resumes work Friday after its summer break, he’ll introduce a bill to provide an $8 million supplemental appropriation to the annual budget for Cure Violence. 

“Public safety should be our No. 1 priority,” Reed said. “It affects everything that we do in the city. It’s time to ‘put our money where our mouth is.’”

Cure Violence has been shown to be effective in cutting violent crime in urban areas, Reed said. Earlier this session, the Board of Aldermen allocated $500,000 to fund the program.

The substantial increase in funding from this bill will enable the city to offer the program throughout St. Louis, according to a news release.

Also ahead, aldermen will deal with the various kinds of tax breaks and issues involved with a new stadium, but it’s just hard to say exactly when, said Mary Ries, legislative director for Reed. 

Generally, the ordinances would mirror different parts of a resolution of support for the project the board passed 26-2 on Nov. 30, 2018. That was when a soccer team was just a proposal and not a certainty.

According to an economic impact study done last year, no current revenue would go toward the project. All public money would come from dedicated stadium-only sales taxes.

“Because the Impact Study estimates that 92% of fans will come from outside of the City this has the effect of regionalizing a portion of the financial support for the stadium,” that resolution said.  

This is an exciting project for the city,” Reed said in a statement. “It will create job opportunities, increase economic activity and engage our youth, which is so very vital to moving our city forward and serving our residents and businesses. The city is the economic engine for our region and state. This is another way for us to drive our economy and lift our city up.”

The plan calls for a $400 million private investment in the city. 

The city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority or the LCRA Holding Corporation would acquire land now owned by the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission. Then the city would lease the stadium site to the ownership group for at least 30 years. The ownership group would cover costs that are typically the responsibility of the property owner. 

That plan provides for a 50 percent exemption from the city’s amusement tax. The other 50 percent will go into an account for improvements or demolition of a stadium in case the team doesn’t work out.

Also in the package will be an exemption on the sales tax for construction material – a standard item with development districts. 

Two taxing districts for the area of the stadium each would add a 1 percent sales tax. The two districts, also common in areas of development, would be a community improvement district and a transportation development district. 

“You may pay a little bit more on your hot dog and a soda,” Ries said. 

The stadium construction would bring in about $180 million in direct and indirect output and would generate 341 full-time jobs, the economic development study said. 

An MLS stadium would bring in about 370,000 fans from outside St. Louis, the study said. Their spending of about $8.4 million would bring in 175 direct and indirect jobs. Local taxing bodies would net at least $1,334,000 in the beginning. Of that, $992,000 would come to the city, not including hotel taxes. 

There also have been discussions about using a stadium for youth programs. 

Also, when the board returns from its break, it will consider final passage of a bill calling for an election on whether to end the city’s residency rule for jobs. The bill’s sponsor, 14th Ward Alderwoman Carol Howard, and numerous others say the rule makes it harder to find applicants for jobs including police positions. 

The board will also consider a bill sponsored by 21st Ward Alderman John Collins-Muhammad for an election on whether to cancel the planned reduction of the number of city wards and aldermen to 14 from 28. He said he’d push for final passage on Friday.

Collins-Muhammad also said he planned to introduce a bill on Friday calling for an election on a change in the City Charter allowing the Board of Aldermen to have more time to consider the annual budgets.

 And the board’s Public Safety Committee will hold separate meetings on violent crime and homelessness. The committee will meet at 10 a.m. Sept. 17 in Room 208 of City Hall with representatives of the St. Louis Area Violence Prevention Commission to discuss the how the agency works to prevent violent crimes in the St. Louis area.  

The Public Safety Committee will also discuss homelessness at 10 a.m. Sept. 19 in Room 208 of City Hall with the Rev. Larry Rice and other invited guests.

In addition, airport privatization will be on the minds of many aldermen.

Jim Merkel

southsidemerkel@gmail.com Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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