The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

Archive for the category “st. louis”

More Bad Business in St. Louis

St. Louis should be doing everything possible to help small businesses. The population had declined and the city as a whole lacks for good businesses. Instead the city is making it worse. They have decided to make things worse. In a small minded effort to get more tax revenue, the city has decided to reclassify many small businesses from retail to manufacturing. A good example is Crown Candy, an iconic business in the Old North St. Louis area. The reason for this reclassification, they have mixing bowls. Bakeries have been reclassified in a similar manner. Crown Candy in particular deserves the keys to the city not being treated in this rude manner.

To be successful, St. Louis needs to be the easiest city for small businesses to work, not the most difficult. Written by Paul Dribin


More on Development Incentives

The Riverfront Times contained an excellent article today. It focused on a bill before the Missouri legislature which will improve the use of TIFs. It will require more transparency, shorter TIF periods, and allow the school districts more input and the possibility of opting out. The legislation is supported by both liberal and conservatives etc. The City of St. Louis is opposed to it because they want more “local control” over the process. Once again the City of St. Louis is on the wrong side of history. Written by Paul Dribin.

Zoo Fees and Sales Tax

St. Louis has one of the great zoos and museum districts in the world. Admission to the zoo, art museum, and history museum are free. The institutions are supported by property taxes imposed on St. Louis city and county residents.

Residents of the surrounding counties should either chip in or have to pay an admission. We are a region and these institutions should be supported regionally. If someone joins one of these institutions on their own and pays an annual membership, they should get free admission. Written by Paul Dribin

Development Subsidies in St. Louis

The Post-Dispatch today headlined an article which stated that the City of St. Louis gave away through TIFs and tax abatement $30 million instead of $17 million. This article is not written to question the error but the huge amount of subsidies St. Louis provides to developers. I know the city is not by itself always a strong market, but the level of subsidies appears out of whack.

There is not enough targeting of incentives by the city. TIFs were intended to be used in economically distressed areas, not everywhere. When the use of block grant funds to write down development costs is added to the pile, the situation gets uglier. Efforts need to be made to make the development process easier and ease off of some of the onerous historic preservation rules. Written by Paul Dribin

Charter Schools

Betsy Devos has taken a deserved hit due to her ignorance of education policy. She and others, of course, have touted charter schools as a solution to the education problems facing our country. Recent research has again shown that overall the performance of charter schools is not superior to public schools and charter schools do not inspire public schools to do better. This has important lessons for St. Louis. I know of some superior charter schools that are a benefit to the community and some superior public schools. It just depends. Written by Paul Dribin

Quality of Life in St. Louis

A recent study by the Federal Reserve in St. Louis concluded that we have a high and affordable quality of life here. I have always felt that way. Cultural amenities, restaurants, architecture, etc. are top notch. The cost of living is great, housing is generally affordable, and traffic is minimal. I would think as housing gets more out of sight in the “trendy” cities, that places like St. Louis should be able to effectively market themselves. If only we could do something about crime and our archaic governmental system. Written by Paul Dribin

City of St. Louis Affordable Housing Trust Fund

I have written previously about the City of St. Louis Affordable Housing Trust Fund. It is a fund that is derived from out of state taxes paid in St. Louis and supposed to be used for affordable housing efforts. For years money has been siphoned for other purposes.

The city has passed a sales tax for metro link expansion(which is an ill conceived idea). Half of the funds are to be used for other community based needs. Housing advocates are lobbying the city to use the funds to expand affordable housing efforts. I strongly agree with this effort and urge readers to lobby city officials in this regard. Written by Paul Dribin

St. Patricks Center

I wanted to write today about the amazing work being accomplished by St. Patricks Center, the largest provider of homeless services in Missouri. I am privileged to offer some help as a volunteer to the organization.

St Patricks of course provides a men’s shelter and meals. More important they provide a whole network of social, housing, and supportive services to help end homelessness. They operate permanent housing communities and provide a whole range of supportive services. Their facility even provides a job incubator.

The Executive Director of St. Patricks Center is Laurie Phillips who is a remarkably talented and caring person. St. Louis is luckily to have this organization. Written by Paul Dribin

Regional Chamber Again

Donnybrook tonight had a good discussion about the dismissal of Joe Regan as President of the Regional Chamber. The panelists comments were the same as mine, what does the organization accomplish, are the staff too highly paid, why do we need them. All good questions. Written by Paul Dribin

Metrolink Security

The rapid transit system in St. Louis known as Metrolink is an albatross. Mostly due to security concerns ridership is down and the operating deficit is increasing. The St. Louis Post Dispatch ran an article today about Metrolink which is quite disturbing. There is still no overall security plan linking St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Clair County. The standards for policing these three jurisdictions are all different. The prosecutor in St. Louis County will not allow prosecutions for riders who do not pay fares. St. Louis City hardly provides any policing at all. Why are they talking about expanding a system that does not work now. Written by Paul Dribin

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