St. Louis City services could suffer if one-percent tax eliminated

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - The case has been made for public safety, but the City of St. Louis says other basic services could suffer if voters don’t support the one-percent earnings tax on the April ballot.

St. Louis Executive Director of Operations Todd Waelterman said if the measure fails, significant cuts would be made to the Streets Department.

"Everything you see out there,” Waelterman said. “Snow removal, patching the potholes, patching the streets up, turning the streetlights on, towing the cars, traffic signals, striping the roads."

It’s unclear what cuts would be made and by how much, but he said a vote against the earnings tax would eliminate close to one-third of the Streets Department’s budget. The earnings tax is the single largest generator of city revenue.

One of the key concerns about cuts concerns snow removal.

"We heard a few years ago, people want more snow removal service. They want their side streets done. We spend about $1 million a year removing snow. We start cutting that back, can you imagine what that's like?" Waelterman said.

Mayor Francis Slay has said the earnings tax is critical to city operations, including the fire department, corrections, streets, and equipment services. The measure passed overwhelmingly when it was up for a vote in 2011.

Waelterman said services residents and visitors take for granted could be scaled back.

"Would you turn the street lights off? Would you quite maintaining the street lights? That would save us $5 million a year. That's crazy, right? When we look at crime. And people want to feel safe out there," he said.

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