FERGUSON, Mo. — Failure by Ferguson voters to approve a property tax increase should have no “major effects” on the city’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice or efforts to adopt community policing in the St. Louis suburb where Michael Brown was fatally shot by an officer, the city manager said Wednesday.
Ferguson voters on Tuesday approved a sales tax increase but rejected a property tax hike proposal. The taxes were meant to reduce a $2.9 million deficit and help fund changes mandated in a Justice Department agreement aimed at improving Ferguson’s criminal justice system. Those changes will cost an estimated $2.3 million over three years.
In a statement Wednesday, City Manager De’Carlon Seewood said failure of the measure will force a close look at the city budget.
“There may be some reduction in services but we do not believe there will be any major effects to the Consent Decree agreement, or our Community policing model,” Seewood said.Ferguson is already planning across-the-board pay cuts of 3 percent for all employees.
The sales tax is expected to generate more than $1.2 million annually, but about one-third of that goes to a capital improvements fund, not general revenue.
In addition to the deficit, Ferguson must, as part of the Justice Department agreement, hire a monitor; implement diversity training for police; purchase software and hire staff to analyze records; and outfit all officers and jail workers with body cameras.
Brown, 18, who was black and unarmed, was shot during a street confrontation with white officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. A grand jury and the Justice Department cleared Wilson in the shooting.
The shooting led to a Justice Department investigation of Ferguson police and court practices.
The City Council last month agreed to the settlement after first rejecting it a month earlier.