- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) - Officials of two St. Louis County municipalities say a new state law that caps revenue from traffic tickets played a role in their decision to switch from village to city status.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1Sd5r7T ) reports voters approved the status changes last week for Velda Village Hills and Bel-Ridge. Officials say the legal authority of cities to impose a wider array of taxes and business fees provides more flexibility if ticket revenue drops significantly.

Earlene Luster, who chairs the board of trustees in Velda Village Hills says the new law “was a great influence” in her board’s decision to put the village’s city proposal on the ballot.

“Because we’re strictly residential, we have to look at all components to make sure we stay viable,” Luster said.

Deputy director of the St. Louis County Municipal League Steve Ables says the two villages would now be able to impose a tax on more utilities.

Bel-Ridge board chairwoman Rachel White said the ticket revenue cap was a small part of the reason for seeking city status. According to White, other issues such as residents getting to elect a mayor were more significant, even though the financial options will help the village.

Under the law going into effect in January, minor traffic tickets can only provide 12.5 percent of a St. Louis County municipality’s general operating revenue. The law was passed to address predatory revenue-generating concerns raised in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black, by a white Ferguson police officer.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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