Soulard Taxation Without Representation

There’s a 6:30 pm Tonight Soulard Special Business District Board Meeting at Soulard Station, 1911 S 12th.

Soulard SBD is the property tax district, for part of the Soulard neighborhood, that funds privatized policing, off duty police via TCF, and so-called security cameras.

This is also the tax district that held the extra super #TransparencyFail meeting last month. Not giving proper notice of meetings is just one of many problems with the Board.

Over 70% of Soulard residents are renters who pay property taxes via their monthly rent. Tonight’s meeting will be conducted without a required residential renter Board member. It’s companion sales district district- Soulard Community Improvement District– requires all Board members to be property owners.

The previous residential renter Board member was Molly Dougherty. In March 2021, She bought a home in Soulard but was allowed to remain on the Board repping renters. She now serves as a homeowner Board member. Dougherty is a landlord attorney at Sandberg Phoenix and serves as treasurer for 7th Ward Alder Jack Coatar’s campaign committee for St. Louis City Board President. Coatar served on the Board before he was elected Alder.

The due diligence made by Soulard SBD Board to fill the residential renter Board seat is found in the July 2021 Minutes. They posted a notice in the St. Louis Daily Record, a subscription service for legal notices, a publication read by likely less than a dozen residential renters in Soulard.

Additional transparency issues with Soulard SBD:

  • They post skeleton, generic agendas with meeting notices on their website and a year in advance to City’s Public Meeting Calendar. And, as happened with the last meeting and a number of other times, they change meeting times, dates, places but never update the City Calendar notice.
  • They are always behind posting Meeting Minutes. July 2022 are the latest Minutes posted. You regularly see “forgot to approve Minutes” in Minutes.
  • There’s no Budget or anything resembling Financials posted to the District’s website, only a 2016 pie chart.

These special tax districts represent the worst of government- poorly run private clubs providing inefficient parochial responses to citywide concerns. Instead of stopping this trainwreck, Alders continue to rubberstamp creation of new ones. As the 2023 elections for Alders and Board President approach, who will run on a platform of getting rid of special tax districts?

Further Reading

St. Louis’ Private Police Forces Make Security a Luxury of the Rich by Jeremy Kohler, ProPublica, September 8, 2022

A Private Policing Company in St. Louis Is Staffed With Top Police Department Officers by Jeremy Kohler, ProPublica, September 9, 2022