Robert Vancil

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Loss of Sales Tax Revenue Adds to City's Many Woes

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Bottles in bags mark the typical Monday morning scene on Collinsville Ave, looking east from King

 

Robert Vancil of LeRoy, Ill., tax increment financial consultant for the City of East St. Louis, April 10, 1990, wrote to Mayor Carl Officer in part:

"While the city has been studied to death, no report seems to focus on the real problems. Hence, most proposed solutions fall short of the mark. The single most important fact in the city's decline has been the loss of sales tax revenue.

"This loss came because of the flight of retail businesses in the late '60s and early '70s. Rebuilding the stock of private housing and retail businesses is the double task at hand.

He reports that typically a city the size of East St. Louis garners two-thirds of its income for the general funds from the city share of sales taxes, In the 1960s and '70s this was true in East St. Louis, then the white flight was followed by the business flight, complicated by the growth of Fairview Heights as a retail center. "For 15 years the city has lived with a loss of 50 percent of its income," Vancil says. Federal revenue sharing helped, but it has been cut off.

Comparing sales tax revenues for Belleville and East St. Louis, in 1965 Belleville received 75% as much as East St. Louis; in 1990 (really 1989), Belleville received 500 per cent of East St. Louis's revenue. The figures:

Year

1965

1970

1975

1980

1985

1990

Belleville

$727,291

$1,259,932

$900,338

$3,830,968

$4,005282

$4,633,828

East St. Louis

$1,007,429

$1,189,003

$1,074,039

$1,091,691

$1,988,533

$933,073

The Collapse of Collinsville Avenue as a retail trade center for Southern Illinois contributed to the sales tax revenue collapse. So did the loss of the major automobile dealerships to the suburbs.

Vancil proposes that the city pursue with the state legislature distribution of sales tax revenues on a per capita basis rather than to the cities in which the sales were made.

 

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