St. Ann Could Become a “Pool” Sales Tax City
Not just anyone can come up with attention-grabbing headlines like that. You are either born with the talent or not. Seriously, though, the above headline has it all. Mid-size suburb, detailed local sales tax issues … who wouldn’t jump at a chance to read this entire post?
My Tim Hardaway writing skills aside (that reference will be lost on just about every one of my readers, except for one loyal dude who reads from London), we all know how the current economy has really hit the financial health of malls and the cities that depend on them. One such city in St. Louis County is St. Ann, home to Northwest Plaza, which will go into foreclosure soon, and has been in trouble for some time. This will have a significant impact on St. Ann’s finances, but the city does have options.
Option one, which it will likely follow, would be to pour even more tax incentives into the property in an attempt to revive it. The St. Ann city manager is quoted in this Post-Dispatch article:
Conley said the structure of the public assistance for mall redevelopment remains. He noted that city officials hope for an eventual revival of St. Ann’s largest commercial property.
“I don’t think there’s anybody who would disagree that something needs to be done up there,” he said.
Well, I disagree, for whatever that is worth.
Option 2, which is probably a long-term solution with short-term budget pains, would be NOT to pour more tax dollars into a failing developement, and instead just become another sales tax pool city within St. Louis County. I doubt anyone in St. Ann is seriously considering this, although I would love to be wrong. If St. Ann became a pool city, it would benefit from growth around the county, and would not be so dependent on one particular mall. This move would increase the total amount of tax dollars available in the pool, and with St. Ann’s large population, the city would get a significant amount from it each year — although not near what they used to get when Northwest Plaza was a thriving mall. Those days are gone, however, and an investment in public dollars might change things around, or it might not. A switch to “B” or “Pool” status would be in the long-term interest of the city and its people.
Lest you think I am picking on St. Ann, I think Crestwood should do the exact same thing.