During a recent debate over the St. Louis County’s sales tax sharing system and its impact on cities such as Chesterfield, a county official fired off an unusual solution – “Chesterwild.”
The remark from St. Louis County Chief Operating Officer Garry Earls came during the Progress 64 West luncheon Feb. 21 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Chesterfield, according to an article in West Newsmagazine. Earls, a supporter of the system, had been discussing it with Chesterfield Mayor Bruce Geiger, a long-time opponent.
At one point, Earl quipped that a merger of cities such as Chesterfield and Wildwood (which he dubbed “Chesterwild) made sense, claiming that a majority of people spending money in Chesterfield don’t actually live there.
The context for the comment is what Mayors such as Geiger see as an unfair distribution of the revenue generated by the county’s 1 percent sales tax. Enacted in 1977 and most recently altered in 1993, cities are either designed as "point-of-sale" cities that keep a majority of the revenue generated from the tax or as "pool" cities that contribute the revenue into a shared fund.
As previously reported by Patch, as a pool city Chesterfield generated approximately $12 million in sales tax in 2011 but only received $6 million back. However, the system benefits cities such as Wildwood, which often receive more than they put in.
The result, Geiger has argued in the past and at the February luncheon, is that they have no incentive to build up their own sources of revenue. Earl countered that Chesterfield is dependent on shoppers from outside the city limits to fuel its retail success.
The argument goes toward a larger, longer-running debate about the impacts of St. Louis County’s 91 individual cities. Critics argue that it is a weakness, creating unhealthy competition among municipalities for businesses and a duplication of services, while supporters say they enjoy keeping their government as local as possible.
What do you think of Chesterfield merging with other cities in St. Louis County? Do you believe St. Louis has “too many cities” or does the patchwork of suburbs help give the region its character? Tell us in the comments section below.