Earlier this year, the Creve Coeur City Council voted to lower property tax rates, from $.084 per $100 assessed value to $.70 for residential rate payers. By law, the same rate will also be in effect for 2013.
Monday night, Creve Coeur resident Steve Wasserman called out council members for the move, telling them he was disappointed in the decrease. Wasserman said the reduction went against the initial recommendation of city staff. He chided lawmakers for listening to a small group of citizens who have championed the subject.
"I think that there’s some kind of movement around the country to lower taxes without thinking about it and I’m afraid that the council might have been swayed by a vocal minority of citizens and acted to mollify them instead of what was best for the citizenry of Creve Coeur," Wasserman told Patch after he made his comments at the meeting.
Mayor Barry Glantz campaigned on the issue of property taxes during the last election, pointing out how he had proposed eliminating them during his time on council in the late 1990s.
Ward 4 Councilwoman Jeanne Rhoades initiated discussion this time around about reductions.
In public hearings earlier this fall, longtime watchdogs Robert Kent and David Caldwell argued that the city either didn't need the revenue because of a surplus, or shouldn't collect it because the city hasn't laid out a plan for how it will spend that surplus, among other reasons.
Wasserman figured that the $20 or so dollars he'll be saving now could have been put to better use to speed up the pace of city services like road repairs.
Rhoades said she was stunned by Wasserman's critique, which she said had no merit. "It was such a modest cut," she said by phone Wednesday, adding that it was "almost a little embarrassing I didn't offer taxpayers more."
She said the move to lower the tax rate was a reflection of the challenges many Creve Coeur residents, including seniors on fixed incomes have faced in recent years.
"For gosh sakes, I'd like to think the taxpayers would get a break once in a while," Rhoades, who is term-limited and cannot run for re-election, said.
City Administrator Mark Perkins told Patch that city staff was not opposed to the decrease and said the amount of revenue involved was not significant. He also added that property tax revenue goes into the city's operating expenses, as opposed to directly into a capital improvements budget that would fund road repairs.