CLAYTON (KMOX) – Would you pay higher taxes at the cash register to keep St. Louis County’s parks from closing?
It’s a question that’s back again, thanks to an email written by a green ribbon commission member and obtained by KMOX News. The commission’s interim report mentions the possibility of cuts in services and also the chance of facility closures if the department is asked to live solely within revenue from its dedicated sales tax.
County Executive Charlie Dooley has expressed such a desire.
As a potential solution, commission member Skip Mange suggested in an email to Dooley last November that the Executive “go to the voters to pass the 1/2 cent parks sales tax that failed a number of years ago.”
Mange is a former Republican councilman from west county.
Democratic councilman Steve Stenger doesn’t understand why parks would be cut out of the main budget pie.
“Every other department gets money from the general revenue fund and there’s no reason why this department wouldn’t,” he said after a recent council meeting. “We have plenty of money in the general fund to fund parks,” adding that its been done that way for as long as anybody he’s talked to can remember.
Mange’s email goes on to say that if voters turn down a parks sales tax increase, then the Executive is “in a better position to make drastic cuts in the parks. Also, that way no elected official (you or the Council) is raising anybody’s taxes.”
The email was provided to KMOX by Stenger.
Dooley has said that he hopes for no facility closures this year and has also said that no decisions have been made about whether to make the parks department self-sufficient or not. In fact, he has stressed the budget for next year is far from finalized.
The Executive has, however, said he’d like to give county employees their first raise since the recession.