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St. Louis mayor to name task force that will study city revenue streams

Mayor Tishaura Jones signs an executive order creating a commision to look at diversifying the city’s revenue streams on Monday, June 17, 2024, at City Hall in downtown St. Louis. Treasurer Adam Layne, far left, Greg F.X. Daly, St Louis Collector of Revenue, second from left and Jason Fletcher, St. Louis Interim Deputy Comptroller, to the right.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Mayor Tishaura Jones signs an executive order creating a commission to look at diversifying the city’s revenue streams on Monday at City Hall. Treasurer Adam Layne, far left; Greg F.X. Daly, collector of revenue, second from left, and Jason Fletcher, interim deputy comptroller, far right, look on as Jones signs the order.

A new task force established by St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones will look at ways to make sure the city takes in enough revenue to meet its long-term needs.

“I’m grateful to the residents of St. Louis and our region who contribute to the earnings tax,” Jones said Monday at the signing of the executive order establishing the Long-Term Revenue Advisory Council. “Your contribution to the city of St. Louis, the cultural and business hub of our region, is something to be proud of. We want you to continue that contribution, and we want to protect that contribution, today and well into the future.”

A replacement for the earnings tax has been a topic of debate and discussion for years. It took on a new sense of urgency in 2010, when voters statewide approved a measure requiring that St. Louis decide every five years whether to retain the 1% tax, which makes up a third of the city’s general revenue. And just days ago, the city settled a lawsuit by agreeing to refund people who worked remotely from homes outside the city for companies based in the city during the 2020, 2021 and 2022 tax years.

Jones said the settlement had nothing to do with the creation of the task force. She said she had been thinking about the issue since she was treasurer.

“I know a little bit about the city’s sources and uses of funds, and this is something that we have to pay attention to,” she said.

The 12-member task force will meet monthly, issue a report within six months and then dissolve. Its members have been instructed to study how the city currently raises money, how sustainable those sources are and other potential revenue streams. They will represent the following categories:

  • The community
  • A financial institution in the city, either at a headquarters location or a branch
  • The city’s municipal financial adviser
  • A community development corporation located within the city
  • Someone active in the city’s business community
  • An employee of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
  • The offices of mayor, comptroller, collector of revenue, Board of Aldermen, treasurer and city budget division.

The fiscal 2025 budget that’s currently awaiting approval by the Board of Aldermen includes $26 million as a contingency for the result of the refund lawsuit or any potential attacks on the earnings tax. But the city isn’t going to know whether that’s enough until people start requesting the refunds, said Gregory F.X. Daly, the collector of revenue.

“The next 90 days are going to give us an indication of how things are going to be moving forward,” he said. “We will make sure that whoever applies for a refund will be getting a refund.”

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.