2 min read
Posted on 10.09.06
  • 2 min read
  • Posted on 10.09.06

An editorial in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch outlines the plan for Proposition P, a small sales tax increase that City voters will find on the November 7 ballot, and the good reasons for City voters to support it:

Mayor Francis Slay has proposed a one-eighth-cent increase in sales taxes. It would produce $4.4 million a year. The money would be used to build two new recreation centers, one in Carondelet Park in south city and another in north St. Louis, probably in O’Fallon Park.

The centers would be similar to the new community centers in Clayton and Richmond Heights, with gyms, running tracks, exercise equipment, meeting rooms and pools indoors and out. Unlike the current city rec centers, the new centers would charge those who can afford it. Estimates made in 2004 put that charge at about $45 a month for an adult and $58 a month for a family. For individuals and corporate citizens looking for a place to do some good, sponsoring memberships or helping underwrite the cost of the centers is a perfect opportunity.

The city’s older recreation centers will remain free and get long-overdue renovations if the referendum passes. In neighborhoods without rec centers, the city proposes to reopen programs in school gyms and churches. There will be pre-school programs, open gym nights and expanded recreation league sports.

The newspaper concludes:

The tax is small and the benefits large. The payback won’t be limited to the kids playing sports or the older adults gathering for senior citizen meetings.

One of the keys to keeping children safe and out of trouble is keeping them busy, especially in disciplined activities that make them feel part of something bigger than themselves such as a dance squad or a basketball team. The hours between school dismissal and 8 p.m. are critical, says Police Chief Joe Mokwa. Offer kids something to do in a protected, structured environment with an adult role model, and you’ll pull them out of the reach of drugs and gangs. The alternative is more crime on the streets — and more victimized children.

I couldn’t have said it better.