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St Louis City Proposition P

Ballot Language: “ Shall the City of St. Louis impose a sales tax rate of one half of one percent, solely for the purpose of providing revenue for the operation of the Department of Public Safety, including hiring more police officers, police and firefighter compensation, and enhanced law enforcement services?”History: After St. Louis County passed Proposition P in April 2017, Alderman Steve Conway introduced Proposition P to the Board of Alderman in July 2017. It passed after the third reading. If passed, the increased sales tax will bring in an estimated $20 million annually. Currently, the Department of Public Safety is 57% of the city’s budget. Summary: The City is experiencing a severe shortage of police officers and is threatened with losing even more. There are approximately 100 unfilled officer positions. Currently, many officers are working 60 hours a week and the overtime cost is in the millions of dollars. St. Louis County officers and other neighboring departments pay on average $10-20 thousand more annually. When Proposition P is put in place in St. Louis County, the city may lose even more officers. Crime is a serious problem. The police department is under serious public scrutiny, charged with the use of excessive force and inappropriate responses to public demonstrations.Supporters say that the City must do something to hire more officers and significantly raise compensation. They also say that law enforcement services must also be funded. They also say that the increased revenue canProvide funds for the Circuit Attorney’s office, After-school programming, Recreation programs, Social work and mental health programs.Opponents say that there is no guarantee that funds will be used for crime prevention social service programs and have the following reservations:A sales tax is a regressive tax that places an undue financial burden on the poor and those on fixed incomes.There has not been an official audit since the city took control of the Police Department.The real financial picture is not known since pensions costs mandated by contracts have not been seriously factored into the proposal analysis. The parity requirements of pay scales of both police and fire department personnel may raise costs without a change in this legislation. A permanent Chief of Police is not in place.The definition of “law enforcement services” is not clear in the proposition.There are serious concerns about police use of force etc.
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