City's one percent earnings tax up for vote Tuesday - KMOV.com

City's one percent earnings tax up for vote Tuesday

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

St. Louis city's one percent earnings tax is up for a public vote on Tuesday.

The earnings tax is the largest source of the city's general revenue. It goes towards services like police, fire fighters, street and park maintenance.

A no vote on Proposition E would phase out the tax over ten years, but could also mean cuts to major departments like police and fire.

"It would be really irresponsible to get rid of it, but the consequences are real and devastating  to the city of Saint Louis," says Mayor Francis Slay.

If it's voted down, the mayor says the alternatives could be raising property and sales tax. But those against the earnings tax say it is a burden on people who live, work and have businesses in the city.

"This proposal is a ten year phase out so it gives the city an opportunity to work with elected officials and residents of Saint Louis to come up with a plan that will work for everyone," says Stephanie Lewis. Lewis is with the group "Vote No on Prop E". She says some people have found loopholes to not pay the tax, something the mayor says isn't true.

"What they are trying to do is divide the city socially, economically and racially when they make those kind of statements," he says. 

The earnings tax isn't new. It has been around since the 1950's.

"There is no doubt that we have lost people living and working in the City of Saint Louis year after year. This gives us a great opportunity to have our people, our residents have a new look at how we are doing that, how we fund out city and come up with a better way," says Lewis.

Slay says 60 percent of the earnings tax is paid for by people who don't live in the city, but if that tax goes away, the burden will be heavily placed on the city.

"If it does goes away and there are replacements, these replacements here have to be born by the people of Saint Louis, the people I represent, 30 percent by the way live under the poverty line in the city of Saint Louis," says Slay.

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