Lobbying Firm to Monitor Pooled Tax for Webster Groves
Webster Groves joins other municipalities to share lobbying diligence regarding the St. Louis County sales tax distribution (pooled) approach.
Webster Groves is one of seven cities that has joined together to hire a Jefferson City lobbying firm to monitor the 2012 Missouri Legislative session for potential changes to the St. Louis County sales tax distribution formula, known as the pooled tax program.
Staffers at the lobbying firm, R.J. Scherr & Associates, will represent Webster Groves and the municipalities of Wildwood, Clarkson Valley, University City, Florissant, Pine Lawn and Greendale.
The Webster Groves City Council approved the hiring of the firm at a recent meeting. Approximately 23 percent of the Webster's general fund revenues comes from how county sales tax proceeds are distributed.
Under the current system, municipalities are divided into two camps: point-of-sale, or “A” cities; and pool, or “B” cities. The “A” cities are required to share a portion of their 1-cent countywide sales tax revenues with both the “B” cities and St. Louis County on a per-capita basis. Under this system, the pool cities get $124 per person, annually.
"We'll use the lobbying firm to try to stop some of the proposed legislation that could be severely detrimental to us," said Webster Groves City Manager Steve Wylie. "We'll also use the firm to support a compromise position we worked on that the St. Louis County Municipal League has endorsed."
St. Louis County municipalities have operated this way since 1993; however, last year city representatives for Fenton and Chesterfield tried to change or alter the system. Other city leaders pushed back, indicating that it was not equitable to decimate so many cities' financial approach without proper, long-term planning.
This type of shared, or pooled, system was based on the concept that some cities intentionally would develop larger commercial centers that neighboring cities would tap and support. Conversely, those nearby cities basically would focus more on being residentially oriented municipalities, not competing for the same businesses or services. In a nut shell, the system was designed to avoid duplicating businesses among cities close in proximities.
R.J. Scherr & Associates also monitored the situation during last year's legislative session when activity heated up regarding proposed changes in the shared pool tax system.
Eureka-Wildwood Patch reports that St. Louis County's sales tax system was a major question at a legislative update forum hosted by the West St. Louis County Chamber of Commerce in Clarkson Valley last month. Rep. Don Gosen, District 84, said all variances should be addressed in the open, instead of an "backroom discussions."
"Will anything happen after it's all put out there, that's hard to say. I don't want to throw anyone under the bus with how it might be changed in the future," he said. "It's a concern that's been developing over a number of years. We do need to tweak the system."
As reported by Fenton-High Ridge Patch on March 14, State Rep. Mike Leara (R-St. Louis County) told a group at a Fenton Area Chamber of Commerce legislative update meeting that a bill he sponsored to rework St. Louis County's sales tax distribution system is "stalled in the House" and is not expected to be approved this year.