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St. Louis Co. Council Pushes Back, Against Dooley Tax Increase

Michael Calhoun
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CLAYTON (KMOX) - St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley is calling for a tax increase.

When County Council members admittedly weren’t receptive, Dooley apparently decided to make his case to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

KMOX News has since spoken with St. Louis County Council Chairman Steve Stenger, who says Dooley approached him a couple of weeks ago and was given a clear message:

“If it is presented to the council, it will be voted down.”

Dooley projected a $10 million drop in tax revenue this year and said the tax increase would prevent county employee lay-offs and allow for an unfreezing of salaries.

Stenger says the potential lay-offs are news to him.

“The last thing we want to see is a talent drain for the county. The last thing we want to see is our own county employees hurting,” he explained. “We definitely want to see a raise for them but we believe, on the council, that we can have a raise without a tax increase.”

Stenger criticizes Dooley for requesting a tax cut in 2009,  just before the County Executive’s re-election in 2010.

The Chair says his council colleagues want to see cuts and believe the county’s $82 million reserve can fill any gaps. Raises, Stenger says, would cost no more than $5 million. He adds that the county’s AAA bond rating would only be affected if the reserve drops below a $20 million level, which he says would not happen.

And as for that projected $10 million shortfall, Stenger says collections are down less than one-percent so far this year. Last year, he says, posted an unexpected $10 million rise in revenues.

Stenger says it looks to him like Dooley is “grasping at straws to get his tax increase passed.”

Both Stenger and Dooley are Democrats, and their party currently holds a majority on the County Council.

Copyright KMOX Radio

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