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Ste. Genevieve Police Chief Explains Tax Proposal To Improve Public Safety

On January 10, the Board of Aldermen for the city of Ste. Genevieve voted to present a tax levy for “Improving Public Safety.”

The tax proposed is $0.2684 per $100 of assessed valuation.

If passed, this tax would be used to increase the salary of our full-time police personnel, in an effort to more adequately compete with surrounding agencies.

Realizing this may be confusing, I wanted to take an opportunity to explain and hopefully dispel any misconceptions surrounding the issue.  So far in our efforts to educate people, there has been the belief that this tax would increase a current tax bill of $1,000 by more than $200 a year, which is not the case.

Assessed valuation is calculated at 19 percent of market value for residential property. For example, if your house is worth $100,000, the assessed value is $19,000, to which the $0.2684 cents per $100 will be applied. In other words, if passed, this tax would increase the taxes on a $100,000 market value house approximately $51 per year.

To calculate this, take the assessed valuation of your personal property and/or real estate, as indicated on your most recent tax bill, divide that by 100, then multiply that amount by the $0.2684 cents.  Please see the following example:

Market Value of Real Estate

to Assessed Valuation

$100,000.00 x 19% (.19) = $19,000  

$19,000 (assessed valuation) divided by 100 = $190.00

$190.00 x $0.2684 = $50.996 or $51.00 (annual tax increase)

[Editor’s Note: Personal property such as vehicles are assessed at 33.3 percent; commercial properties are assessed at 32 percent; and agricultural at 12 percent.]

To further aide in the explanation, here is an estimated tax increase chart for various personal property amounts:

Property value  Estimated tax increase (annual) 
$50,000   $25.498 or $25.50
 $100,000  $50.996 or $51.00
 $150,000  $76.494 or $76.49
 $200,000  $101.992 or $101.99
 $250,000  $127.49
 $300,000  $152.988 or $152.99
 $350,000  $178.486 or $178.49
 $400,000  $203.984 or $203.98

Like many in our community, I don’t want increased taxes either. I understand the financial hardships of increased taxes, and certainly wouldn’t request it if it was not necessary.  

I would also like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation of the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s Office. There have been statements reported indicating we lose personnel to the Sheriff’s Office because they pay more. And, while the fact that the Sheriff’s Office does pay substantially higher than us is true, we have lost very few officers to the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Gary Stolzer and I have a very good working relationship, and there is no animosity between our agencies.

Where we really struggle is attracting great candidates, who would make great municipal officers, willing to stay and serve our citizens. If given the opportunity to come to the Ste. Genevieve Police Department or the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s Office, which pays $8 to $10 per hour higher, or the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, which pays $11 to $14 per hour higher, the choice is easy.  That’s more than a $16,000 a year difference.

And to be clear, the Sheriff’s Office feels the same obligation to pay competitively that we do. St. Louis County, Jefferson County, National Geospatial-Intellegence Agency, etc., make it hard to compete.

I realize we can’t compete with those agencies, but I want to help ensure the officers, on whom we rely to protect our family and property, are adequately compensated for their efforts.

Nobody gets into law enforcement to become rich, but we do assume risks, and are willing to lay down our lives to save others’, and I, for one, believe they shouldn’t have to live their lives and/or raise their families in poverty because of their chosen career.

I feel very fortunate to have been able to recruit and hire some fantastic officers, ones that I truly feel have the city’s and citizens’ best interests at heart. I have also hired some officers who turned out to be less than desirable, but were the best options we could attract at the time. While we don’t want a high “turn-around” in our police force, we won’t tolerate inadequate, unethical or sub-standard conduct in our officers; and our command staff is dedicated to ensuring these values are present. Every new officer we hire requires the expense of training and outfitting, which is incredibly costly. We strive to have a department full of professional and respectful officers who work their entire careers in Ste. Genevieve, and who will retire as productive members of this community.  

I would really appreciate your support on this property tax levy.  The election for this measure is April 2, and a “Yes” vote is required for the measure to pass. I truly believe that passing this property tax levy will help ensure that we attract and hire the best candidates to faithfully serve the city of Ste. Genevieve and its citizens.

Thank you for all of your support.

[Eric Bennett is the chief of police for the city of Ste. Genevieve’s police department.]

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