was one of the few to thank Chesterfield City Council Monday night for the apparent support of a special taxing district for an outlet mall, because word is the school district stands to get some $1.5 million a year in revenue, if all goes well.
However, twice as many residents spoke against the tax proposal as spoke for it, typically there are 5-10 people.
The hearing was over adding another 1 percent sales tax by creating a Community Improvement District (CID) —at Boone Bridge over the Missouri River.
The sales tax would jump to 9.3 percent on purchases at the outlet mall, and provide developers with the ability to borrow some $30 million against the anticipated sales tax revenue.
Mayor Bruce Geiger and council members Matt Segal and Derek Grier insisted from the dais that residents just did not understand what a CID tax was—and that's why they opposed it. City staff and council spoke only in favor of the tax.
Early on, a man shouted from the audience at the council: "Are you on their payroll?" Residents applauded.
The majority of residents who spoke against the added sales tax said they simply opposed giving developers financial help to build a money-making venture such as an outlet mall.
"Why do they need the money back, if it's such a good investment?" asked resident Jordian Johnson.
Another resident, Paul Hartmann, said giving developers the sales tax hike was like his roommate asking him to split the cost of a new TV, and then keeping the TV in his room.
"Two words. Rip off," Hartmann said, indicating taxpayers wouldn't see any of the profits.
Council member Connie Fults said later she didn't believe speakers were residents, even though they gave their addresses as Chesterfield prior to speaking.
A labor union representative linked with local grocery stores said the proposed tax was "unnecessary."
"We are opposed to all these kinds of things. We're looking for a level playing field," Michael Kelley said.
said the money would go toward "infrastructure" in the undeveloped farmland. That could mean drainage, roads, sewers, water.
The tax would last for 20 years. Mayor Gieger said the city would benefit from $2.2 million a year in revenue from the mall. "It requires no money from the City of Chesterfield," he said, about the tax hike.
Council and staff described the tax as a "user fee," since only shoppers at the outlets would pay it. On $200 in purchases with the 9.3 percent sales tax, the tax would total $18.60
Council member Barry Flaschbart was the only one of eight to vote against the tax hike, in a first pass approval Monday.
"One percent is just too high," Flaschbart said. The next and final City Council vote on the CID tax is set for May 21.
Developers said one of the key factors in choosing Chesterfield for the outlet mall was the sales tax advantage, hinting the city had competition for the deal.
Yet, council member Bob Nation said he had reservations about the CID tax.
"I think we have an excellent business and shopping location here. . .with or without the CID," Nation said.
More opinion and information about the tax district hearing, and about the mystery 1,000-signature petition—coming up in subsequent articles.