Lawmakers propose $760 million tax hike to improve Arch grounds, parks


by staff

Posted on December 7, 2012 at 6:42 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 7 at 8:35 PM

ST. LOUIS ( -- Lawmakers made the first step Friday to put a sales tax increase proposal on the ballot, with funds directed at improving the Arch grounds and other local parks.

Taxpayers in St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County would vote on the proposal in April. If passed, the tax hike would raise an expected $760 million over the course of 20 years.

Tax revenue of $100 million would be directed toward the Arch, while the additional $660 million would be spent on local and regional parks.

Alderwoman Phyllis Young introduced a bill to put the tax increase on the ballot.

"People go there now and see the Arch and museum and go home," Young said. "What if we had a place that drew people because we had concerts, programs, information? It's an exciting place to be."

Alex Ihnen is the owner of, and chair of the "City to River" volunteer group.

"Once we start supporting our national park it's ours," Ihnen said. "And 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 40 years from now, we're still going to be paying for it. Once we start paying for it, we can't get away from it, so this is a new precedent that I think we need to avoid."

Officials say if the tax proposal passes in just two of the three jurisdiction, improvement plans would have to be scaled back.

Here is a look at the proposal by the numbers:

$577 million -- Total cost of Arch grounds improvements
$380 million -- Cost of improvements on the MO side
$197 million -- Cost of improvements on the IL side
3/16 cent -- Sales tax increase proposal

$38 million -- Money raised each year by sales tax
$760 million -- Money raised by tax increase over 20 year life
$100 million -- Amount of tax money to go to Arch grounds improvements
$62 million -- Money from state and federal sources
$33 million -- Pledges from private donations