Prop P--what is it? 3/16 cent sales tax for trails, parks, and the arch in St Louis city & county

One of the most important issues to be decided in Missouri's April 2nd municipal voting day is Proposition P in St. Louis City and St. Louis County.

What is Prop P? How much will it cost and what will the funds be used for? Will the funds benefit biking and walking in this region?

What will receive funding from Proposition P? Proposition P funding is divided three ways--all help improve trails, parks and regional connectivity of trails and parks throughout the region:

  • 40% goes to St Louis City & St. Louis County to improve local parks & trail projects
    • The 40% is split between the city and the county:
      • 80% will go to St. Louis County and cities within the county
      • 20% will got ot St. Louis City
  • 30% goes Great Rivers Greenway for its regional trails and greenway system.  This will allow the Greenway District to accelerate its project of creating an interconnected "River Ring" trail network throughout the region, protect natural areas and wildlife habitat, and continue to support GRG's on-road bicycle route system that interconnects trails, parks, and all other major destinations in St. Louis City & County
  • 30% goes to Great Rivers Greenway to enhance the area immediately around the Arch and riverfront.

Click here for more details about the plan for the funding.

The graphic to the right, from the St. Louis Beacon, summarizes the situation well.

Does any of this money go to local parks in St. Louis County (outside the city of St. Louis)?

Yes. St. Louis County will receive approximately $6 million annually to improve county parks and $ 4 million will be awarded as grants to improve local parks in the county.

How much is the sales tax?

The tax proposed is 3/16 of a cent.  That amounts to about 2 cents out of every $11 of purchases.

Are food and prescription drugs exempt?

Yes. Food and prescription drugs are exempt from the Safe and Accessible Arch and Public Parks sales tax.

What is Great Rivers Greenways?

Great Rivers Greenways is the regional, public parks and trails agency created by voter approval in 2000. Great Rivers Greenway is governed by a 12 member board.  Since 2000, Great Rivers Greenways has created more than 104 miles of trails for walking, jogging, and bicycle riding and protected 1,500 acres of natural areas, wildlife habitat, and parks.

Great Rivers Greenway has been the most powerful and by far the largest funding source for trails, greenways, and on-road bicycle routes in the St. Louis area.

How long will Proposition P be in place?

This tax increase would not be permanent and would only be in effect for twenty years.  During this twenty years, the tax will allow the metro area to leap forward in creating trails and parks, developing and enhancing the riverfront area, and interconnecting them all via bicycle routes.

Why use local money to pay for a national park?

Several reasons:

  • Only minority of the local tax dollars--30%--is going towards the arch grounds and surrounding area.
  • Of the 30% of the tax funds that go to the arch and its immediate area, a large portion is not going to the national park grounds itself, but to the area immediately surrounding the arch grounds proper (see the graphic illustration above). National Park money will never be found for these projects that are not on National Park property.
  • The overall plan for the Arch Grounds includes a combination this local funding, federal funding, and private funding.  The local tax funding will be a relatively small part of the funding for the overall Arch grounds improvement project--but the local funding helps instigate the other funding, both federal and private.
  • Although publicity about the proposal has used the word "Arch" a lot, in fact the proposal is a broad-based one to reinvigorate the riverfront area and connect St. Louis's downtown to the riverfront.  Both pedestrian and trails connectivity throughout this whole area will be greatly increased--and this will help the pedestrian connectivity of the St. Louis downtown area, through the Arch grounds to the riverfront.
  • Throughout Missouri, cities and regions have often built trails, pedestrian routes, and bicycle routes in a piecemeal fashion.  The result is a fragmented system that adds up to far less than the sum of its parts.  Including the Arch, downtown revitalization and connectivity, and riverfront revitalization gives the Great Rivers Greenway "River Ring" system a core and a center--an element that has been sorely lacking in many other trail and bike route plans.  Creating that central core of bike/ped connectivity benefits the entire system--and makes it into something greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Is the region going to wait for the federal government to come up with funds to revitalize the Arch grounds and surrounding area, or take the reins into its own hands and get it done during our lifetimes?

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