Wednesday, November 24, 2010

City Savvy

Alternative source of general revenue?

From an amenity and destination standpoint, the City of St. Louis could be considered a "target rich environment". Lots of people from throughout the region and the entire midwest visit St. Louis for a variety of reasons.

They come here for our restaurants, the interesting neighborhoods, the museums, the schools, to view historic architecture, visit world class hospitals, attend sporting events, enjoy our wonderful parks, neighborhood festivals, and parades.

Year after year, they come by the millions. Tomorrow, tens of thousands will line up on the streets of downtown for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. Those visitors support local businesses but they also place a demand on local services in a city starved for general revenue.

How to capture some of that traffic in a way to bolster a flagging city budget? What about creating a program for the savvy city visitor? Those visitors know they get the best of our region's arts and entertainment when they visit St. Louis.

Why not invite them to become "patrons" of the City St. Louis? With modern technology, such a system is possible. Patrons would simply affix a bar code on their vehicles.

The city could then install scanners at the many entry points to St. Louis. Once a month, an electronic transer could be made from the checking accounts of city patrons to the City of St. Louis Collector of Revenue. Only those people actually visiting the city would pay a fee. Those never entering St. Louis would not be assessed any access charges.

Of course, such a program would need to be completely voluntary. It would, however, provide one alternative to the city's earnings tax. If you're a non-city resident, would you support such a program?


Anonymous said...

not a bad idea, but wouldn't such a program be automatically voluntary? as in, if you don't want to pay for your use of city amenities, then don't come to the city? the only difference between this and tolls, it seems, would be the voluntary part. however, i doubt that enough people, especially non-metro visitors, would voluntarily take part in the program for it to become a substantial source of revenue. i also don't see how it would be that much different that charging for admission to various targets, e.g. the zoo, the art museum, the science center, etc. though, i suppose it would end up taxing a LOT more targets than if fees were implemented individually.

Anonymous said...

You have to be kidding!

Big Brother!

LisaS said...

funny. my Husband suggested the same thing, except mandatory, to be implemented like the traffic light cameras, with charges assessed by the amount of time the visitor actually spends in the City. those using public transit would not be charged.