St. George Police Officer in Trouble … St. George???
This post is not about the specific incident that has landed a St. George police officer in trouble. It is not that I don’t care about the incident, just that it is outside of our mission and research areas at the Show-Me Institute. That aside, many people who read the story in the Post-Dispatch or saw it on the news are probably wondering where the hell St. George is. If you live in South St. Louis County, you know as it is a pretty famous speed trap.
St. George has a population of 1,288. While very small, there are many smaller municipalities in the county. The city itself is funded in three primary ways: property taxes (very low) on residences, a share of sales tax money from the county sales tax pool, and speeding tickets. The speeding tickets are the real rub, as they are what allow the city’s property taxes to be so low, thereby removing any incentive for the citizens of St. George to disincorporate.
There are a number of cities in St. Louis County that are able to exist financially largely through speeding tickets. Rock Hill is probably the most well-known example, but St. George is right at the top of the list. The fact that Missouri is the national leader in fixing (or "amending," in legalese) tickets is part of the story the fines go up, but the points and insurance don’t, so nobody really complains that much when they get a b.s. ticket in Rock Hill or St. George, or wherever.
The state passed a good law a few years back limiting the total amount that a city could get from tickets as a portion of its total budget. Perhaps that limit should be lowered further, and as property taxes go up in the affected tiny municipalities, people might get serious about consolidation or disincorporation. For now, though, just be careful when driving on McKnight/Rock Hill Rd. As the officer says, the limit is 7 mph over, or 10 on holidays.