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St. Louis County Transit Sales Tax Measure (April 2010)

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There was a St. Louis County Transit Sales Tax Measure on the April 6 ballot in St. Louis County.

This measure was approved

  • YES 94,801 (62.915)Approveda
  • NO 55,883 (37.09%)[1]

The purpose of this measure was to help fund the county metro system. In addition to helping fund the metro system that is currently in use, it will also help with expansion programs and the reopening of areas that were shut down in March due to insufficient funding. On November 2008 a similar proposition was put to a vote but residents rejected it. The county has received some state money to help with the metro fund, but that would run out in August of 2010. In order for this to get to a vote, it first needed to pass through the city council.[2] If passed this tax would generate approximately $80 million a year for the metro fund.[3]

If the measure had not been passed the Metro warned that there would not be sufficient state money to ensure funding so service would have likely been cut in many areas. Many still depend on the Metro system, officials hope that this will help persuade voters to vote in favor of the tax increase. Also, another proposal would not have been able to be voted on by the voters if this had failed for several years.[4] County officials were also trying to stress how important the public transportation system was to residents, stressing the important jobs it ensures and availability of movement for others without other means to get around. County officials also linked economic growth with a strong public transportation system and while officials were sure it was going be a tough race, were hopeful.[5]

Support

A coalition of supporters has been set up to help with campaigning so that this measure has a better chance of passing than the previous one. Their main idea is that the metro is a vital part of St. Louis and because so many depend on it, University students and office workers among them, for it to have further cuts would be a bigger problem. Voter turn out is usually low during mid year elections, but the coalition hopes to target college campuses to get those votes.[6] It is estimated that around 10,000 people will lose access to public transportation and around 600 workers will be out of a job if this measure is not approved.[7]

A group called Advance St. Louis has also been formed to help with the campaign of this measure. They have collected around $22,000 to help their efforts of passing this tax.[8] Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton is the head of the steering committee that is set to help this organization, along with other major business leaders in the area. Together they hope to be able to show the public the need for the metro system.[9] A group called Transit Alliance has also been along side campaigning for this measure to be approved.[7]

The Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis has also come out in support of this measure and the METRO system, in a recent newsletter published by the community, they strongly encouraged their readers and supporters to vote yes on this measure. They see the metro system as an integral part of the community and vital to the well being of all concerned. They also noted that management of the system has been changed so concerns about misuse of funds is not a real issue.[10]

Local college students have also come out in favor of this measure, hoping that the metro system would lend to more access to the local universities and encourage more international students to come to the city. Students more often feel the need for public transportation if they are not from the city and do not want to invest in buying a car, a lacking public transportation system does not help.[11]

The group Citizens for Modern Transit has raised nearly $400,000 towards advertising and promoting this measure for approval. The group Advance St. Louis also has been strong in their campaign for the measure, noting that the passing of this tax is the only way to modernize and keep St. Louis competitive.[12]

The archbishop of St. Louis has also come out in favor of this measure, noting how important the public transportation system is to the elderly, the disabled and working poor. He notes that the massive cuts of last year should not be allowed to get worse with further funding cuts and states that it is the duty of residents to vote in favor to help the community.[13]

Opponents

Some have come out against the measure, stating that it is just a wish list put together by the transit authority and because there is no price set on each plan, a yes vote would give them free reign to do whatever they want with the proposed money. Transit authorities stressed that the measure was not a wish list, but a plan that looked forward to the potential possibilities of the system.[14] Opponents also note that if the referendum is defeated then Metro will be forced to change and would make the system better because they will be forced to work with less.[15] Opponents also note that this increase to the Metro budget will only be a minor fix and will not address the underlying problems with the system. They also believe this is not the right way to fix the problems.[16]

Additional reading

References