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Are residents willing to pay more sales tax to help fund Metro?

by Diana Zoga / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on June 14, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 14 at 6:41 PM

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV) -- President and CEO of Metro Transit this week told a St. Louis County Council committee discussions are underway to consider asking voters in St Louis City for a sales tax hike to fund Metro expansion.

John Nations said the a quarter-of-a-cent sales tax increase has been talked about since voters in St. Louis County agreed to a hike two years ago.

Nations’ comments come as Metro seeks appropriations of current sales tax revenue.

A spokesperson for Mayor Francis Slay says the office has no plans to put the issue on the ballot anytime soon, saying the city was working on more pressing issues.

Last month, Missouri lawmakers sent HB 1504 to Governor Jay Nixon.  If he signs the measure, officials in St. Charles County, St. Louis County and St. Louis city would be able to ask voters for a sales tax increase to help fund park and Gateway Arch improvements.

According to the Missouri Department of Revenue, the combined sales tax rate in St Louis (city and state collections) ranges from 8.491 percent to as high as 10.491 percent. The amount depends on if the establishment is located in a special taxing district that may collect additional money for community improvement, transportation development, tourism or regional recreation.

Chicago, as point of comparison, charges a 9.5 percent sales tax rate.

“A lot of times when people buy retail, they’re not really worried about the taxes.  They’ve already kind of computed it in their head,” said business owner Nate Brown.

Brown says sales tax rates didn’t affect his decision when it came time to open up new men’s boutique DNA.  The Washington Avenue store currently collects sales taxes at the 8.491 percent rate. 

Brown says he supports the idea of asking voters for a sales tax hike, if the money is used to improve the arch grounds.

“We don’t want to get too high here, but we need to build up downtown," said Brown. “I think people will still shop, but let’s not raise it too much."

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