Soccer Stadium Campaign Raises Questions About Public Funding

By on March 6, 2017

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  An April ballot proposition would put $60 million in public money toward a new soccer stadium, but campaign ads say city residents won’t pay for it unless they use the stadium.

Opponents say public money is city residents’ money regardless of the source. Representatives of SC STL, the ownership group hoping to bring Major League Soccer to St. Louis, say there’s nothing deceptive in the wording.

“The use tax applies only to a select number of St. Louis businesses, and not city residents or consumers, on out-of-state purchases of goods,” SC STL investor and St. Louis FC owner Jim Kavanaugh said in a statement. “If Propositions 1 and 2 each pass, any potential funding for the project would be sourced from only the half-cent increase in the use tax that is paid by those businesses on out-of-state purchases.”

The logic behind the ad’s wording is based on the two funding sources the city would use to pay for the stadium project. One is a tax on out-of-state purchases by local businesses, which would fund about $50 million, and the other being sales tax revenue generated from stadium events.

“Not a single cent of your money will be used for the stadium, as the money to finance the bonds will be paid for by a business tax on their purchases of out-of-state goods and services,” reads one email from Vetta Sports, a local youth sports business, to its supporters.

A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office deferred comment on the ad to SC STL.

Alderman Cara Spencer, 20th Ward, said the ads are “absolutely misleading.” Spencer, who opposes the ballot initiative, said the use-tax money would otherwise go to city services such as public safety and roads. So while the public money may not be generated from residents at-large, Spencer says voters should know there are other things it could be spent on.

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