Would the City participate in the County's pool on sales taxes?

Specifically: "The City of St. Louis collects sales tax.  If the City rejoins the County, will the City participate in the County pool?  What will this look like?"

Answer

Generally speaking: No.

Long answer by Polsinelli:
"If the City of St. Louis rejoins St. Louis County as a municipality, it would neither participate as a “pool” or a “point of sale” City, and would not receive any distribution of funds from the County.

The provisions of state law which govern the current division of sales taxes in St. Louis County (66.620 RSMo. 2012) would not be affected by the re-entry of the City of St. Louis as a municipality into St. Louis County.  The City of St. Louis would not participate in either pool established by law.  In any re-entry of the City of St. Louis into St. Louis County, transitional provisions would have to be made to determine how County sales taxes would apply in the City of St. Louis and how the City would share in sales tax revenues, just as other County municipalities do currently.

The statutory enactments which have put in place the scheme by which sales taxes are divided between the County and the various municipalities are the products of years of work by multiple legislatures.  The law is extremely complex, taking into account which cities once had a municipal sales tax,  potential new incorporations, annexations of unincorporated areas by existing cities, and consolidations among existing cities,

In broad terms, the law establishes two categories of cities – Group A cities, generally referred to as Point of Sale cities, and Group B cities, generally referred to as “Pool” cities. Group A cities were those that had passed a general municipal sales tax before the County passed a general county sales tax and which did not opt to become a Group B city.  With various caveats, they are allowed to keep a majority of the revenue generated within their own borders.  Group B cities are those from which most of the revenue raised by the sales tax goes into a pool which is then divided mainly based on population.

Not surprisingly, the law is silent in regards to what would happen in the event the City of St. Louis re-entered St. Louis County, since there is no indication that ever, in the consideration, drafting or implementation of these provisions that such a possibility was ever contemplated by the drafters.  The City of St. Louis does not fit under either definition of Group A or Group B, since both refer to areas that were “located wholly or partly within the county” as of the date of the statute, which clearly the City of St. Louis was not.

To attempt to force the City of St. Louis post facto into this carefully constructed scheme would wreak havoc to the carefully constructed structure that was put in place by the General Assembly.

This would not be the result that the Legislature intended when it enacted the laws relating to the distribution of taxes in St. Louis County as it currently exists.

The paramount goal in construing a statute is to give effect to the legislative intent, and in doing so, it is proper to consider its historical background in which the enactment took place.  Kansas City v. Travelers Insurance Company, 284 S.W.2d 874.

Similarly, in State ex rel Henderson v. Proctor, 361 S.W. 2d 802, the Missouri Supreme Court quoted the case of State ex inf. Kemp, etc. V. Pretended Consolidated School District No. 1 of Montgomery County, 359 Mo. 639, 22 S.W. 2d484,488 and stated:

“We may not capriciously ignore the plan language of the statute, but in determining what the language really means, we may consider the entire purpose and policy of the statute and ‘the language in the totality of the enactment’ and construe it in the light of ‘what is below the surface of the words and yet fairly a part of them’”.

The statute on sales tax distribution in St. Louis County is a very specialized law, drawn up to address a very specific set of circumstances that did not include the City of St. Louis being a municipality within the County.  To attempt to use it for purposes for which it was never intended would work an unintended injustice to all involved

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