- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) - As creek erosion due to flooding continues to worsen in the St. Louis area, the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District is asking St. Louis-area voters to approve a property tax adjustment that would pay for stormwater maintenance fees.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1Ls7qS8 ) reports that taxes would increase in west St. Louis County, inch up in St. Louis and go down in St. Louis County between the city limits and Interstate 270.

District spokesman Lance LeComb says the district is well equipped to take action on some of these problems, but that there’s no money to do so.

The tax increase will allow the district to spend money on stormwater maintenance where it’s most needed rather than being constrained by a balkanized system of special taxing districts.

Ferguson resident Glen Jones said he had to move out of his home after erosion along Maline Creek caused a tree to dangerously loom over his bedroom.

“If that tree falls, it’s all over,” Jones said.

Before proposing the tax increase, the district was going to replace that revenue with an impervious surface fee that charged customers based on the amount of roof space and pavement they owned, but a ratepayer sued the district over that charge. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the impervious fee needed a public vote because it was a tax.

Even if the tax change passes, the district will not have new money for capital projects, such as creek stabilization. It may ask voters in four years or so if they want to pay for those problems with another special stormwater charge.

“The April 5 ballot is the first step to getting this fixed,” LeComb said.

But that might not be enough comfort to residents dealing with the issue now. Nearly 30 of them, mostly from the Hathaway Manor subdivision in unincorporated North County, came to the district’s board meeting last week to demand a fix.

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

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