City sales tax increase: repercussions

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In response to the sales tax getting raised (again) and the continued decline of services in the downtown area, I'm going to bring lunch twice a week, rather than buying it every day like I have for the past twenty years or so. Chase says my mean lunch spending is just above $12.00.

Overreaction for "just a half cent?" Meh, maybe. But it's been way too high and getting worse for too long - with no discernible benefit. The sales tax levy downtown is about double what it is anywhere else in the metro area. So I'm just doing my small part to help the City reap what it's sown.

I wonder if others have, consciously or not, been doing anything similar. Whether it's getting water instead of soft drinks, eating at less expensive places, or not ordering an extra side, the post-tax sticker shock must have some detectable deleterious effect long term.
I've never really considered or looked at sales taxes before buying things....now i do try to buy almost everything in the city so that the money stays in the city and im getting an indirect benefit from my spending.
bprop wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:19 am
In response to the sales tax getting raised (again) and the continued decline of services in the downtown area, I'm going to bring lunch twice a week, rather than buying it every day like I have for the past twenty years or so. Chase says my mean lunch spending is just above $12.00.

Overreaction for "just a half cent?" Meh, maybe. But it's been way too high and getting worse for too long - with no discernible benefit. The sales tax levy downtown is about double what it is anywhere else in the metro area. So I'm just doing my small part to help the City reap what it's sown.

I wonder if others have, consciously or not, been doing anything similar. Whether it's getting water instead of soft drinks, eating at less expensive places, or not ordering an extra side, the post-tax sticker shock must have some detectable deleterious effect long term.
I understand the sentiment, but you're willingly hurting businesses by doing this. This is self-defeating. Yes, I know the city passed a regressive sales tax, but this is not the way to get back at it.
Chalupas54 wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:39 am
bprop wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:19 am
In response to the sales tax getting raised (again) and the continued decline of services in the downtown area, I'm going to bring lunch twice a week, rather than buying it every day like I have for the past twenty years or so. Chase says my mean lunch spending is just above $12.00.

Overreaction for "just a half cent?" Meh, maybe. But it's been way too high and getting worse for too long - with no discernible benefit. The sales tax levy downtown is about double what it is anywhere else in the metro area. So I'm just doing my small part to help the City reap what it's sown.

I wonder if others have, consciously or not, been doing anything similar. Whether it's getting water instead of soft drinks, eating at less expensive places, or not ordering an extra side, the post-tax sticker shock must have some detectable deleterious effect long term.
I understand the sentiment, but you're willingly hurting businesses by doing this. This is self-defeating. Yes, I know the city passed a regressive sales tax, but this is not the way to get back at it.
I'm still purchasing things (including lunch) which helps workers and generates economic activity, just not at City businesses. I'm not hurting the businesses; the City is...by not being able to manage its finances to provide fundamental services, by giving away tax incentives like candy, and by relying on ever-increasing sales taxes while paying no attention to the consequences.

And it's not like there is any end in sight.
^ i mean, if you're doing it out of necessity then fine and understood. if you're doing it because you're mad at city leaders, then the aggression is misplaced and you are, in fact, hurting small business in the city.
^ agreed... if it truly is a money thing then that's understandable but if not taking your money to those places that are paying a fair wage is the best way to support small biz and make a positive impact on the city via personal spending.
^^
I'm doing it because there are better places to spend my money.

When I purchased lunch downtown, I didn't view it as "hurting" businesses that I didn't patronize (which I am now patronizing). Choosing where to spend your money doesn't benefit one business at the expense of another, at least not the way I view it. If I'm spending $12, it's going to help whatever business I spend it at, and their workers. If I was skipping lunch entirely, or eating bread and water to protest, then yes. But I still plan on eating well.
^^ Choosing where to shop based on fair wage is a completely separate issue, particularly now that the City can no longer dictate it. I may choose to eat lunch my other three days a week based on where the workers get a fair wage (or where I can tip well, which I do).

If specific businesses get hurt, maybe some can relocate to where the sales tax isn't so punitive.
bprop wrote: I'm doing it because there are better places to spend my money.
so... businesses that locate where sales taxes are lower = better. that's exactly what you're saying. that's fine. i very much disagree.

bprop wrote: Choosing where to spend your money doesn't benefit one business at the expense of another, at least not the way I view it.
really? 'cause i'm not sure how it can be viewed any other way. it's not necessarily good or bad, but that's how it is.

bprop wrote: If specific businesses get hurt, maybe some can relocate to where the sales tax isn't so punitive.
maybe. or maybe they've invested their life savings in their small business prior to the tax hike and can't just up and move somewhere so that you can save a dollar on taxes.

i get that you're mad about more taxes. i'm not thrilled about it either. but starving city businesses is not going fix the problem. if anything it'll make it worse. and you can blame it on city leaders if you want but the result will be the same: a deader city.
I know of two families on my block that purchase groceries out in the county rather than at the Loughborough Commons, because of the taxation. I'll be looking into it as well.

Especially for larger purchases, I think this will become more common.

And you already have neighborhood taxing districts were businesses are being strained with even more taxes than the base rate, in order to provide private policing that the city just doesn't seem to want to provide with their already close to 10% rate. :evil:

Something needs to change here, because the taxes and the policing/crime are killing us.
urban_dilettante wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:38 pm
the result will be the same: a deader city.
That will be on the shoulders of the city "leaders" that instituted a steadily more and more hostile environment for businesses, not individual actors voting with their wallet.

There is a point where it is no longer worth it to operate a small business, and we've already reached that point for a ton of businesses that have left. The business environment that the city government creates is what is solely to blame, not individual people choosing other options.
Aesir wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:43 pm
I know of two families on my block that purchase groceries out in the county rather than at the Loughborough Commons, because of the taxation. I'll be looking into it as well.

Especially for larger purchases, I think this will become more common.
I guess if sales tax is say 3% lower at a County option a $100 purchase would save $3 (which is a bit more than a gallon of gas which should come into play as well.) So most times it wouldn't seem to be worth it but I could see for some big ticket items.
Aesir wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:49 pm
urban_dilettante wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:38 pm
the result will be the same: a deader city.
That will be on the shoulders of the city "leaders" that instituted a steadily more and more hostile environment for businesses, not individual actors voting with their wallet.

There is a point where it is no longer worth it to operate a small business, and we've already reached that point for a ton of businesses that have left. The business environment that the city government creates is what is solely to blame, not individual people choosing other options.
Indeed. I don't know how it can be read any other way.

Listen, I get it's hard to say it was THIS half cent or THAT quarter cent that did it - as hard as defining which proverbial straw broke the camel's back. But yea, there's a continuum along tax rates (and sheer taxing variety) where it becomes too much in retrospect.

High sales taxes are easy for the "leaders" to swallow because it puts a different face on the tax collector. Instead of writing a check or surrendering part of my paycheck to the government, the coffee shop collects it every time I patronize them. I certainly don't blame businesses for being given that burden, but they did choose to operate in those conditions. I regret that some of them jumped in when the water was only warm and not boiling.

If twenty years ago the City said, we're going to double our sales tax levy, nobody would be here complaining about consumers jumping ship. But because the doubling happened over time, it's our fault for bailing?

And just in case: next time it happens, I'll double down. Fair warning :)
Aesir wrote: There is a point where it is no longer worth it to operate a small business, and we've already reached that point for a ton of businesses that have left.
To be fair, most businesses and people left long before taxes reached their current levels (thanks, racism, highways, and government subsidized suburban housing) leaving the city with little choice but to raise taxes on remaining residents in order to sustain its infrastructure, which many many non-city-residents still use. Unless we get some regional cooperation going pretty soon (the opposite of businesses fleeing west to take advantage of inter-muni incentive warfare) I don't see how things are going to get better. You got some ideas?
And it's not like there is any end in sight.
This is the over-arching issue I have with the increase(s)... raising sales tax will be the next 'solution' to whatever funding issue the city has, and the solution after that, and the solution after that.... and so it goes.
I know this is not the debate at all, but context never hurts:

Chicago Sales Tax 2017: 10.25%
New York Sales Tax 2017: 8.875%
Cincinnati Sales Tax 2017: 7.00%
San Francisco Sales Tax 2017: 8.50%
Houston Sales Tax 2017: 8.25%
Kansas City Sales Tax 2016: 8.60%

St. Louis City Sales Tax 2016 (Before prop P): 8.679%
St. Louis County Sales Tax 2016: 7.613%

Difference = 1.066%

This is just via casual google searches so this may not be 100% accurate but I believe it is reasonably close. While towards the top of the scale, it does not appear to be completely insane comparatively speaking. OBVIOUSLY there is a large difference in services provided, etc. so I am not saying all is equal.

Some people are for lower taxes, some people are for higher taxes. Some people are happy to pay for the privilege of living wherever they choose to live. Sales taxes have been approved or denied by the voting body of St. Louis. Hopefully voters are allocating these resources in the most efficient way possible to increase the quality of life in the city.

Edit: Post Dispatch says sales tax going from 9.2% to 9.7% in most areas. So that widens the spread to over 2% between city and county rates. Although the county rate above is from 2016 and would next reflect any increases in 2017.
^ You have to add in municipal tax rates, if applicable. But, with the various taxing districts downtown, I believe it will be over 12% in places.
I bit the bullet on this one and voted for the sales tax increase in opposition to most of the people my politics strongly align with. Although "in opposition" is a tough term there, as I largely agree with them.

I'm in a weird spot right now where I tend to support the discussion against things like this, but when it's time to go to the ballot, I make a little bit more of (what I consider to be) a practical decision.

I think a lot of people who are getting these raises deserve it, and I think it's important to not fall further behind in the wage gap. And I didn't see that being avoided any other way any time soon. And that's why I voted for it.

But it's an atrocious funding mechanism and our sales tax rate is obscene. We have to turn the pressure to our government to truly audit the budget and find a way to reduce that sales tax now.

The Mayor ran on a promise to do that and hasn't, at least publicly, done so. Only about a third of a quarter of the city supported Krewson for Mayor. Yet she's treating this like her big win. That's the wrong approach. She needs to make her mission supporting the other 90% of people in this city. It hasn't happened yet.
Lyda, to put it lightly, will not go down as one of our best mayors.

She's soft, low-energy trying to appease everyone.

But this is what the city produces. The city is a mess.

Only a tough no BS mayor can clean this mess up.
whitherSTL wrote:Lyda, to put it lightly, will not go down as one of our best mayors.

She's soft, low-energy trying to appease everyone.

But this is what the city produces. The city is a mess.

Only a tough no BS mayor can clean this mess up.
She’s still only months into her term. In fairness, I️ think she’s had a LOT of challenges thrown at her. It would be interesting to see how Slay would have responded to Stockley. Has she had blunders? Yes. I️ still think it’s very early to judge the legacy.


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jstriebel wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:03 am
I think a lot of people who are getting these raises deserve it, and I think it's important to not fall further behind in the wage gap. And I didn't see that being avoided any other way any time soon. And that's why I voted for it.
I hear you, but I hate this is how these tax breaks are being sold.

Do you like libraries? If so, the natural progression is to vote for this new library tax.
Do you support police officers? If so, this sales tax is the way to show that support.
Do you like safe roads? Then you need to vote for this sales tax earmarked for roads.

I hate, HATE earmarked tax propositions - to the point that I will not vote for another one, ever. The above are all fundamental functions of government. There should be no little streams of money set up specifically for each individual purpose - with one exception, IMO, which is a gas or mileage tax, because it can be so closely correlated with usage.

It's just SO cynical the way it's done. One could reasonably argue that public safety is job #1 of government. That should be the LAST thing on the chopping block if it's suffering. Yet with the way earmarks have gotten so out of hand, they make it sound as though such fundamental services would be the first to go.

Even the public has bought in. How many comments have you seen that say something like "If you don't vote for this, don't expect your 9-1-1 call to be answered next year." Yea, right, instead of making cuts to something superfluous or even marginally less important, they're literally going to close down the 9-1-1 dispatch center. :roll:
bprop wrote: Yea, right, instead of making cuts to something superfluous or even marginally less important, they're literally going to close down the 9-1-1 dispatch center. :roll:
+1000. It's always the essential services thrown out as facing cuts when a vote for more of the public's money looks even slightly controversial.

The core problem is, we shouldn't be paying this. The police should already have pay on par with the county. But the city government is so wildly inefficient and corrupt that they have to stick a gun to the public's head to extract more revenue than what they're getting already.

People in this city run around in circles trying to avoid the central issue in so many of our problems, which is that our local municipal governments (and the people that make them up) are utter trash. This tax, that tax, this development, that development, this policy, that policy, doesn't matter in the bigger picture.

Stop avoiding it, St. Louis. :x
Jstribel I voted the same with essentially the same thought process. There is probably a better way but this is what was on the table and now it's time for the mayors office and police department to deliver some damn results. No more excuses.

And as far as taking business outside the city to protest sales taxes, I would encourage that consideration to take a close look at the rates being charged in the areas/stores/developments you are likely to make purchases in. More often than not I bet you will find that the rate being charged is awfully close to 10% anyway due to TIFs and other sales tax add-ons at those stores or in those municipalities as well.

Sure if you are really committed to playing that game on a regular and serious you can probably find places that are 2-3% cheaper on the tax rate but I'm betting its not as simple as merely crossing a municipal border. Its basically like clipping coupons or any other way to work better deals at the margins. Do it often enough and with a big enough sample size and any one person can almost certainly come out net positivr after accounting for ALL the variables. But thats a hard game to consistently play and win, IMO.

Further, I cant think of very many better ways to incrimentally support city businesses & neighborhood improvement (and I'm speaking here about true locally owned city businesses - not the city outpost of a big box store or grocery necessarily) than to spend money in their store versus always spending money at the cheapest place around.

Be frugal when/where you need to based on your personal situation but if you want to see neighborhoods improve and the overall health of the city improve, I encourage you to spend money in the city when you can and where you can.

Just my 2 cents...
We are literally talking about where to spend our food and alcohol money aren't we? I wouldn't take the frustration out on bars and restaurants.

Someone name three places IN the city of St. Louis where you can buy socks and underwear? Name one place not named Target where you could by, say, a toaster? How about a tennis racket? Or a pillow or a blanket?

Where to spend our retail money? Seriously, what retail?
Socks & underwear:

- Target
- JCP
- Burlington Coat Factory

That's all I got....