Letter: Fenton Alderman Seeks Open Minds on Sales Tax Issue
Paul Seemayer asks other municipalities to be open-minded about new options to the sales tax distribution system used in St. Louis County. A plan to change the system did not make it to a vote in the just-ended session of the Missouri General Assembly.
To the editor:
At the heart of it is, repealing this bill will cause destabilization within our communities. I understand that, but the fact is that this bill was designed to "share" sales taxes with other communities because residents of other communities shop everywhere. Well that is true, but the fact is that 90 percent of the sales taxes generated in Fenton come from Jefferson County.
We have lost a lot when Chrysler shuttered its plants and sent the work to Canada and Mexico. There were many people who live in Fenton that worked for the Chrysler Plant or had a business that supported its operations. Even the food and gas sales are down.
The city of Fenton generates revenues in many ways without having a property tax. Our main source of revenue is sales tax; beyond that our funding stream comes from a utility tax placed on businesses within our city.
Chrysler was a HUGE consumer of electric and natural gas. Now I hear opponents of this bill say that the city of Fenton should create a property tax for its citizens. Really, in this economy, you want us to take more money from our citizens just so we can fund St. Louis county and the other point B cities? I think not!
Instead we decided to make sweeping changes—reducing services, freezing pay, reissuing bonds at lower interest rates to save money on our TIF and TDD, paying those off early, and saving the city and its citizens hundreds of thousands of dollars. We have cut uniform allowances, we have cut and consolidated job positions. We have been fiscally responsible with what we had to work with.
When Chrysler was in operation, our city helped support the municipal communities. Now that we have lost this revenue, we are only asking to let us support ourselves with the resources that we helped create within our city. We still pay for the upkeep of our streets and lighting within our industrial area.
With all this said, I do feel for the cities that stand to lose so much. I would like to get with represenatives from these cities and discuss a plan to phase out this distribution system. With a phase-out approach, it will give these cities time to find alternative funding sources, look at the services they provide or consolidate services with other cities. Some of these cities could consolidate their services they provide with other cities. There is an answer to this conundrum, but it will take sacrifice on both sides.
While it may not be popular within these point “B” cities, it is fair for all. These cities existed prior to this legislation—with the exception of Wildwood—and they can exist, with the proper leadership, long after this is repealed.
There was a comment in Eureka-Wildwood Patch from a reader to my last response that stated “Fenton should be careful what it asks for.” The insinuation was that Wildwood could produce a business community that would steal the businesses from our city. My response to this is I would welcome this approach. I believe there is more than enough room for Wildwood to be self-supporting without affecting the City of Fenton in the least. I do not believe that the residents from Wildwood do a majority of their shopping in Fenton.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it one last time. What we are looking for in the City of Fenton is to be self-sustaining. We are not asking to be supported by anyone!
With the loss of a major funding source within our city, we are asking the municipal community to understand our position and work with us on this issue.
Alderman – Ward 1
City of Fenton