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St. Louis County Property Tax Hike Plan Scrapped

The change of course appears to have cooled tensions between St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and members of the County Council.

A schism between St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and members of the St. Louis County Council appears to have been averted.

Roughly two weeks after the Democratic county executive appeared ready to , Dooley indicated that he had put the kibosh on the proposal.

“I think that’s off the table for right now,” Dooley said during his report to the council. It happened during the council's Tuesday meeting at the in .

The proposal to raise property taxes by 2.3 cents sparked an antagonistic reaction from council members, including Democrats such as County Council President Steve Stenger (D-Unincorporated St. Louis County). The 6th District representative told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he questioned whether increasing taxes was necessary when St. Louis County has tens of millions of dollars in reserves. He also said Dooley should consider reexamining recent hires of people who worked on his re-election campaign.

Other council members—such as Councilman Greg Quinn (R-Ballwin) and Councilwoman Hazel Erby (D-University City)—indicated after last week’s council meeting that the proposal was a non-starter.

After he announced the end to a push for the tax increase, Dooley apologized to the council for not being more communicative.

“What I want to do is indicate to the council that there are things that I might have said that (were) misspoken,” Dooley said. “And I do want to apologize for that. In my zeal to get some things done that I thought (were) important, I think that I didn’t do a very good job of communicating to the County Council. And that’s something that needs to be corrected. And that’s something I need to do a better job on.”

“These are very difficult times, but I believe we can do this together and move forward,” Dooley added. “Again, I want to apologize for any misunderstandings of whatever I might have said. But the important thing is I still believe there is an underlying problem that we need to address as a council. And I look forward to working with you" to address it.

Dooley’s words elicited praise from Councilwoman Kathleen Kelly Burkett (D-Overland).

“I want to thank the county executive, because sometimes we forget that we are elected officials and we are responsible to our constituency and the taxpayer,” Burkett said. “But the county executive has to be responsible for the employees of the county. And it’s his responsibility to help them the best he can with the best pay, the best working conditions and the best possible equipment to work with. So I admire your stand, county executive, in a very, very, very difficult situation.”

After thanking Dooley for his comments, Stenger said the council “looks very much forward to working with you and your office and your staff on addressing these issues.”

“And we know they are very important issues,” Stenger said. “And I think we were on the same page on some of those issues with the respect to the employees. We differ on others, but we certainly do appreciate your comments.”

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