St. Louis Democratic Mayor Lyda Krewson has asked Republican Governor Eric Greitens to call a special session about an issue that’s meant to increase police officer pay in her city. A bill died during this year’s regular legislative session of the Missouri Legislature that would have put on this year’s St. Louis municipal election ballot a proposed tax hike to boost police officer pay.
“There’s already a gap in police salaries between the city police department and the county police department. That gap is going to get wider,” says Krewson. “We’re looking for funds every day. We’ve scoured the budget. We’ve got to figure out how to pay our police officers more competitively. That’s not the only thing we have to do, but it’s a big thing.”
In early May, Krewson traveled to Jefferson City to urge lawmakers to pass the measure. State Rep. Steven Roberts, D-St. Louis, sponsored the legislative bill. It was among several bills that died this year on the final day in the Senate.
Krewson says she does not know if the governor will call a special session about the issue. Greitens has campaigned heavily in support of Missouri’s law enforcement.
Krewson says about $20 million annually would be needed, most likely through property or sales tax.
“Believe me, I know. None of us want to pay more taxes. Sales tax is too high. Property tax is too high,” says Krewson. “But, I also know that we need to have a competitively-paid police department.”
She says the tax would go mainly to increase pay, but could also lead to additional officers.
“Ultimately, I think our community has to decide if we’re willing to pay more to have a competitively paid police department,” says Krewson. “Believe me, I know, none of us want to pay more taxes. Sales tax is too high. Property tax is too high. I get that. But, I also know that we need to have a competitively paid police department. Tough problems.”
Crime is an issue Krewson focused on, while serving as an alderwoman. Her husband, Jeff Krewson, was shot to death in 1995, during an attempted carjacking in front of their Central West End home.
Greitens has said that he’s considering calling multiple special sessions this year to address his priorities that the Missouri Legislature failed to pass during the regular session.