ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The St. Louis County Council unanimously approved a 3 percent budget increase, but will not increase taxes or county employee’s wages for the next fiscal year.

The new $680 million budget begins January first.

County Executive Steve Stenger says next year’s budget just reflects the rising cost of doing business.

“Government is not immune from adjusted costs,” Stenger says. “We have many inputs, many suppliers, many purveyors and their prices increase every year.”

Property tax rates will remain at 51.5 cents for every $100 in assessed valuation.

Stenger says if revenue growth doesn’t cover the slight budget increase, the county has the ability to tap into its $80 million in reserves. But, he doesn’t expect that will be necessary.

Loop Trolley Project

The County Council also approved $3 million in spending for the Loop Trolley project with a 4-3 vote, despite some pushback.

County Executive Steve Stenger says it’s money that can only be used for public transportation, it will pull down federal matching funds, and it’s an economic boost for the county.

“When you talk about making St. Louis County a desirable place to live, and visit I think it calls for multi-modal transportation,” Stenger says.

The Show Me Institute calls the project “hyper-local,” and says it’s not what St. Louis County voters intended when they approved a half-cent sales tax raise to expand Metro bus lines and the Metrolink.

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