St. Louis County Council OKs Financing for America’s Center Expansion

By on April 17, 2019

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  The St. Louis County Council voted 4-3 along party lines Tuesday to help finance a $175 million plan to expand and upgrade America’s Center in downtown St. Louis.

Under the plan, first announced in October, the fund used to service the debt issued in 1991 to finance the Dome at America’s Center — built for the Rams, who left in 2016 — would be used to pay off new, 40-year bonds issued for the expansion after the Dome’s debt is retired in 2021. The $6 million per year payment comes from revenue raised by the county’s hotel-motel tax.

The measure’s supporters have said the project is needed to draw more conventions, allowing St. Louis to better compete with other metro areas that have invested to upgrade tourism infrastructure. The St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted 21-3 in December to approve the city’s contribution.

The council’s action also funds what could be a significant recreation complex for bill sponsor Hazel Erby’s district in the center of north St. Louis County. Exactly what and where that project would be has not been determined, but under revenue projections it would get a sizable portion of the hotel-motel taxes generated in the county — a portion that is projected to grow.

Democrats Sam Page, Lisa Clancy and Rochelle Walton Gray joined Erby in voting yes. Republicans Ernie Trakas, Mark Harder and Tim Fitch voted no. The Republicans said there was plenty of time to talk about how to spend proceeds from the county’s 3.5 percent hotel-motel tax. Fitch suggested the county might even consider ending the tax rather than finding new ways to spend it.

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