I loved your recent article, “Money Grab or Safety Issue?” because it was a great start to a really tough conversation. What I understand is that the City of East St. Louis, District 189, landlords, homeowners and tavern owners are losing revenue because people and businesses are moving out of these areas in droves. So, how does one slow down or stop people and businesses from leaving?
In short, we have to manage our tax rates and fines like we live in a competitive world with other municipalities providing better services and lower taxes and fees. Local elected leaders in impoverished communities must find the political will to lower taxes, not increase them.
It seems that in St. Clair County the communities with the lowest taxes and liquor license fees also have lower crime rates, better schools and a better economy. So, the answer to fiscal woes cannot possibly be found in raising the cost of already inferior or insufficient services in an impoverished community.
Imagine that a city was a golf cart that had one pedal (taxes, fees and fines). To go faster (grow), one would push the pedal down to the floor or lower taxes and to stop or slow growth one would raise the pedal. The question raised by the article is really about what city and district leaders want to accomplish long term: grow or shrink.
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Current policy on taxes, fees and fines suggests the latter but it’s not too late to reverse course.
Matt Hawkins, president, Civic Alliance