Residents get say in possible $200M St. Louis bond issue, crime initiatives

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by Laura Hettiger / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on April 15, 2014 at 7:55 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 15 at 4:52 PM

(KMOV) -- St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed spoke exclusively to News 4 to tout a possible $150 million to $200 million bond issue.

The longtime city leader said to make St. Louis safer, he wants to ask residents one main question.

“When you look out your front door, what types of things do you want to see different?” Reed asked

On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, St. Louis residents will get a chance to answer that question. Reed has put together a trio of meetings to gather public input on the issue and, moreover, identify what aspects of St. Louis the people who live there think need the most attention.

The meeting on Tuesday night will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park at 5700 Lindell.

The second will be for north city residents on Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the O’Fallon Park Rec Plex at 4343 W. Florissant.

South St. Louis residents are invited to a third meeting Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Carondelet Park Rec Plex at 930 Holly Hills.

At the end of the meetings, he hopes to put together a better comprehensive, end-to-end public safety plan.

“This is a prime opportunity for residents all across the city to engage in the process and to help to determine to spend their priorities on what could be a $150 to $200 million investment in our city,” Reed said. “To make sure at the end of the day, it impacts their neighborhoods in a positive manner. It gives us an opportunity to address some of the public safety issues in our city, ailing infrastructure in our city and do some things to further bolster our tax base in our city.”

Along the lines of public safety, Reed spoke openly about the recent spike in violence by saying “the sad part is we aren’t getting any better.”

In the last 10 days, St. Louis homicide detectives investigated five different homicides throughout the city.

“This bond could play a major role in making those numbers go down because if there are new technologies that we can deploy: everything from cameras, a city-wide camera system to tons of different things, there is a world of different things,” Reed said.

One of the main initiatives he would like to see citizens agree with is a proactive approach to stopping crime. Instead of solely pumping money into the police department, he hopes this money would help fund youth programs and services to make “sure these young people have something to do, something constructive to do during the summers during their time off” from school, Reed said.

If there is a positive citizen response with new ideas at the three meetings, Reed said he would introduce this bill to the entire Board of Aldermen within the month. If the board approves, it would then be tweaked and perfected over the summer. The earliest voters could see this on a ballot would be during the November election.

Then, if the voters pass it, it would cost the average resident $30 for every $100,000 assessed value.

According to Zillow—an online real estate network—that tax increase would vary across the city. For those living in the Compton Heights neighborhood, the median home price is $275,200 meaning property taxes would increase more than $75 each year. Homes found in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood are valued around $85,000 meaning property taxes would raise between $25 and $30.

“When you think about it like that, $30 per $100,000, it doesn’t sound like that much money,” Reed said. It would come out to about $0.08 a day, “but we still need to make sure the residents are engaged, that they can come to the table and say what should the spending priorities be.”

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