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St. Louis Sues Over Property Tax Exemption Results

by Scott Buie, Dallas, September 2017

 

The City of St. Louis has filed a lawsuit against the Board of Election Commissioners seeking to have it certify that a proposition raising property tax money for derelict properties was passed, not defeated last April.

 

The measure, Proposition NS, which would raise property taxes over the next seven years was approved by 58.57% of voters. The proposition would raise annual property taxes by $11 per every $100,000 of a property's market value. The question is whether the result of ballot measure should be governed by the city's charter, which requires two-thirds voter approval -- or the Missouri Constitution, which requires four-sevenths approval. The city argues that the motion passed under state law.

 

Supporters of Proposition NS, including the St. Louis Association of Community Organizations, contend the money is needed to help make blighted properties easier to sell to developers. They say it would ultimately bring in more property tax revenue, improve neighborhoods, and help reduce crime.

 

Prop NS authorizes the city to issue up to $40 million in general obligation bonds, not exceeding $6 million annually, to stabilize abandoned buildings and houses. The money would only be spent on repairing or replacing roofs and boarding up vacant buildings. It would not be used for HVAC, electric systems or other upgrades.

 

If the city wins its suit in court, the money would go to the St. Louis Development Corporation, which would handle dispersing the tax proceeds.