Last fall, St. Louis County Council members opposed a tax increase and residents rallied against closing county parks—but will they have to do it again?
A committee formed by County Executive Charlie Dooley suggests a tax increase to offset potential park closures; something councilman Steve Stenger (D-South County) said is unnecessary.
Stenger points to an email between Dooley, Chief Operating Officer Garry Earls and Skip Mange, who was appointed to chair the committee. In the email, Mange writes about suggesting a tax increase in order to potentially make cuts to the county's parks department.
The text of the email, which was shared with Patch, is below:
“Just an idea, but why not negotiate a little more even budget for next year, and then go to the voters to pass the 1/2 cent parks sales tax that failed a number of years ago. Remember Charley [sic], you and I co-chaired that effort and we lost by less than a half percent. If the voters turn it down again, then you are in 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 Post-Dispatch’s Paul Hampel reported that Mange said he does want a tax increase for the parks department. Dooley declined to discuss the email, but said he was not pushing for a tax increase.
Stenger told Patch he thinks Dooley is "holding the parks hostage" to raise taxes in St. Louis County.
“To me, the green ribbon committee has absolutely no legitimacy whatsoever and it's nothing more than an arm and a pawn from the administration to try to raise taxes again,” he said in July. “I hope taxpayers have had enough of this.”
Stenger would oppose Dooley if he ran for the county's top position in 2014, .