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Developers say Prop A could hurt St. Louis

By Mandi Rice, St. Louis Public Radio

ST. LOUIS – Several local developers spoke out Monday against Proposition A. They said that uncertainty from the statewide proposal, which would put the city's earning tax up for a vote every five years, could make it harder to attract businesses.

"We think about it as a dangerous experiment, moving forward not knowing what the future will bring in terms of taxation and in terms of services from the city of St. Louis," said Steve Smith, president of The Lawrence Group.

Currently, the earnings tax accounts for about a third of St. Louis city's general revenue. Proposition A does not specify how St. Louis could make up for the lost income if city residents voted to repeal the tax.

"It's such an unknown," Smith said. "If there's anything that business wants, they want to be able to know what the future has to bear."

Brooke Foster, with Let Voters Decide, the campaign to pass Proposition A, called that message a scare tactic. Foster also added that Prop A would not automatically repeal the earnings tax and that the one-percent earnings tax already discourages businesses from locating in the city.

"What it simply does in St. Louis and Kansas City is gives voters the right in future elections to vote whether they want to keep the earnings taxes or phase them out gradually over a period of ten years," Foster said.

If Proposition A passes, city residents will vote on the earnings tax next April.