As St. Louis tries to rein in tax breaks, aldermen have their own ideas

As some in St. Louis look to begin dialing back tax abatements, the city is going to need buy-in from its 28 aldermen, each of whom holds considerable sway over what happens in their wards and whether developers receive tax abatements, one of the city’s most common development incentives.

Much of the pressure to cut back on abatements has built over the last year, after a city-commissioned report put the value of forgone revenue due to St. Louis property tax abatements at $307.5 million from 2000 through 2014. That same report noted the quirk of St. Louis’ government structure giving aldermen such a big say in tax abatement decisions.

After that report, and in response to mounting political pressure and the city’s budgetary struggles, the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority (LCRA) has begun advocating lower tax breaks in stable neighborhoods.

But even when the LCRA says neighborhoods are strong enough to develop without tax abatement, it has still declared property “blighted.” Under state law, that’s a critical step before aldermen pass legislation authorizing tax abatement.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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