The Fenton Board of Alderman unanimously voted against renewing its membership in the St. Louis County Municipal League at its meeting last week.
The move comes after previous efforts by Fenton Mayor Dennis Hancock and State Rep. Mike Leara (R-St. Louis County) to eliminate or phase out a sales tax distribution system were opposed by the Municipal League. The league is a non-profit association whose membership includes St. Louis County, St. Louis City and most of the 90 municipalities in the metro area.
“The board that feels that in the discussions that have been had over the last few years regarding the sales tax distribution, the municipal league should have taken a neutral position,” Hancock said.
Approved by voters in 1993, the distribution system takes revenue generated by a 1 percent county sales tax and puts it into a pool shared by all the county’s communities according to two classifications.
“Point of sale” cities such as Fenton that generate higher amounts of sales tax revenue keep some of it for themselves and then put the rest into the pool. Municipalities’ that have less retail activity are considered “pool” cities and put all of the tax’s revenue into the shared pool. Such cities are then given shares of the pool according to their population.
Hancock said this system costs Fenton $3.5 million a year in revenue. Because of Fenton’s high number of retail outlets, it’s behind only Chesterfield and Maryland Heights in the amount of money it gives up.
“We only get to keep 43 percent of what we take in,” he said.
The executive director of the league, Tim Fischesser, has previously said that the eliminating the system would threaten the economic viability of the whole region by creating a substantial loss in revenue for a majority of communities in the county.
It’s this stance that Hancock said persuaded the board to forgo paying $2,200 in dues to the league this year. Alderman Paul Seemayer was not present at last week's meeting, but Hancock said he shared the sentiments expressed by the board.
“We don’t feel that it was appropriate for us to support an organization that works against its membership,” Hancock said.