Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities

Infinite Earth Radio is a weekly podcast produced by Skeo and the Local Government Commission and hosted by Mike Hancox and Vernice Miller-Travis. Each week they interview visionary leaders, dedicated government officials, savvy businesses and forward thinking individuals who are working to build smarter, more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous communities through social and economic inclusion that values the contribution of all citizens and seeks meaningful lives for everyone. You will discover new leading edge strategies for lifting up and building great 21st century communities, along with cutting edge strategies for revitalizing under resourced communities and empowering excluded populations. Smart Growth, Prosperity and Sustainability are not possible without social, civic, and economic inclusion for people of all economic, social, and racial backgrounds.
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Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities


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Apr 13, 2017


Sales Tax Issues and Impacts

In This Episode:

02:27 Guests Bob Lewis, Jim Brasfield, and Sarah Coffin are introduced.
02:57 Jim shares why he’s interested in sales tax and distribution equity.
03:18 Bob tells why he’s interested in sales tax and distribution equity.
03:52 Bob talks about his role as Principal at Development Strategies.
04:13 Sarah speaks about why she’s interested in sales tax and distribution equity.
04:55 Bob gives his view of what sales tax distribution equity is.
06:13 Jim explains where sales tax money goes and what it pays for.
08:15 Sarah shares what the negatives of sales tax distribution are.
09:43 Bob speaks about how the sales tax system drives land-use decisions.
11:30 Who decides who is a point-of-sale city?
12:54 Mike speaks of the incentives for more commercial development than housing development.
13:51 Sarah comments about the zoning decisions made by local governments and the affordable-housing issue.
14:48 How do we fix the problem of poorer communities going to rich communities to shop and the rich communities taking the sales tax?
16:26 Is there any property tax sharing or is it just the sales tax?
17:31 Mike mentions the challenges of too many local governments and overlapping jurisdictions.
18:02 Bob adds to the conversation of sharing the costs.
18:55 Sarah reflects on how St. Louis County supports its cultural districts.
20:23 Are there any words of wisdom for other parts of the country that aren’t doing sales tax sharing?


Sarah Coffin is an Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Development at the Center for Sustainability at Saint Louis University. Learn more about Sarah and her research here.

Bob Lewis is the Principal at Development Strategies. Learn more about Bob.

Jim Brasfield is a Professor Emeritus at the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology at Webster University. Learn more about Jim.

Take Away Quotes:

“In St. Louis County, when you buy something at a store, depending on the kind of city you live in, the money goes in a pool and is distributed to other cities around the county, or if you are in a city that is a point-of-sales city, it means that most, but not all, of the money goes to that particular city. And one of the unique things about St. Louis County, and I think fairly unique in the country, is that the point-of-sale cities share about twenty percent of the total revenue collected in sales tax with other cities in the county on a per capita sharing.”

“The jobs-housing mismatch is a challenge for St. Louis, and some of the research I’ve done on tax increment financing (TIF), those communities that are wealthier communities, that are low-minority, low-poverty communities, are the one’s that…use their TIF tool for retail, to promote retail sales, which is then those large clusters of low-wage jobs, which are the jobs that a lot of the poor people need, but they’re located further out in the county, whereas in the poorer communities, the more distressed communities tend to focus on residential TIFs and mixed-use TIFs that have a high degree of residential use.”

“It was a tough political battle to ultimately get the sharing, but I think in that instance, both sides had to be willing to compromise, and that’s something that these days in politics seems to be in short supply as people stake out their positions. But as someone who was involved in that discussion leading to the sharing, there was a willingness on both sides to sit down and discuss it and find a middle ground, and I think that’s a key to this and other decisions is that you can’t sit in an ivory tower someplace and say this is what’s best; you’ve got to work with the local people and try to develop some kind of consensus, even if that means you don’t get everything that you would like to get.”


Infinite Earth Radio Episode 52: Affordable Housing and Employment Patterns in the San Francisco Bay Area (Re-release), with Dr. Chris Benner

Infinite Earth Radio Episode 65: #Carbon Series: Conservative Republicans Propose a Carbon Tax, with Catrina Rorke

Development Strategies

George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology at Webster University