August Ballot Issue Rundown
Next week is primary election day in Missouri. You may have seen some ads for candidates on television, radio, or social media. If so, lucky you.
At the Show-Me Institute, we focus on policy issues, not partisan races. Next week’s ballot is relatively light on policy votes, but there are some interesting proposals before voters nevertheless.
In St. Louis County, there are three charter changes to consider. These changes would establish a salary commission for the county council, give greater protection to whistleblowers within county government, and clarify that county appointments to boards and commissions must be approved by the county council. The last one should not be necessary, as that is the current law, but apparently the current law isn’t enough, hence the proposal to tighten up the wording. I think the whistleblower protections are necessary, and the appointment proposal is much needed as well, albeit unfortunately.
Ferguson and Blue Springs are both considering use taxes. My position on use taxes is that they are fine if they are offset with reductions in other, more harmful taxes. In the case of Blue Springs, the city should use the new money (if the tax passes) to reduce its dependence on special-taxing districts and consider privatizing municipal utilities and golf courses. For Ferguson, a use tax increase could be offset by a lower property or utility tax rate. Either way, if these cities (and others that may have a use tax vote next week) are simply using the use tax as new money, voters should think twice about just granting local governments more money.
In the Holly Hills neighborhood of south St. Louis City, voters are considering a new special business district tax to do things that government ought to already be doing in the first place, such as public security and park maintenance. The existence of this proposal is first and foremost an admission that city government is failing, but creating a new, small, tax-funded agency with limited oversight is unlikely to be the savior supporters think it will be.
Finally, there are numerous school and fire district bond issues and tax increases on the ballot. One that stands out is the proposed tax increase in Hickman Mills School District in the Kansas City area. You can check out the performance of the schools in that district at MoSchoolRankings.org. The school district board is proposing a $1.35 per $100 of assessed value tax increase. That is one of the largest increases I have ever seen. For a $200,000 house in the school district, that is a $513 tax increase. Is that worth it to the parents, voters, and taxpayers of that district? We shall see . . .
Remember, the world is run by the people who show up, so show up.