State Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman of Arnold has come out swinging against what she feels is a disingenuous sales tax increase on Tuesday’s ballot to fund the city’s police department.
The measure, titled “Proposition Public Safety,” proposes a 50% decrease in the personal property tax rate, coupled with a 1% sales tax increase that would be earmarked for the city’s police force. The Arnold City Council voted unanimously in December to place the measure on Tuesday’s ballot.
If approved, the city’s sales tax would increase from 1.250 cents per dollar to 2.220 cents, and the personal property tax rate would decrease from 0.363 cents per $100 assessed valuation to 0.1815 cents.
The property tax decrease is great, she says, but the sales tax increase isn’t necessary.
“We can cut property taxes in Arnold *and* make sure law enforcement has the resources they need,” Coleman wrote in a Facebook post last week. “And we can do it *without* a $7.2 million tax increase like the one the City of Arnold, MO is proposing.”
City Administrator Bryan Richison says the increase in revenue from the sales tax would be enough to cover the city’s police budget for the entire 2024 fiscal year, with the estimated revenue at $7.2 million and the proposed budget just a little over $7.1 million.
More importantly, he says, the proposal would create a dedicated revenue stream for the department.
“A big thing is, it would be a dedicated revenue stream that could only be used for law enforcement. It creates a minimum amount of funding for our police that can never be reduced below the level of the tax. No matter what happens in the future or who is running the city, the police department will always have, at a minimum, the amount of money generated by the tax.”
Richison also says the sales tax increase, paid by anyone shopping in Arnold, would free up funds in the city’s operating budget for other city expenditures such as infrastructure improvements.
But Coleman, a staunch proponent of tax cuts who is also arguing for doing away with Missouri’s sales tax on groceries, says the city of Arnold has all the money it needs and can afford to decrease the personal property rate without increasing the sales tax.