Jan 2001 / church and state 1 - 2 :: email this story to a friend
By Mike Chance and Francis Wildhaber
Issues and Positions that Mr. Wildhaber Plans to Address in this Campaign
An incremental plan to eliminate the St. Louis City individual
earnings/income tax. This plan would first eliminate the city earnings tax
for the lower income levels and progressively eliminate the tax at all
income levels. The included exemption amount would be raised each year.
Fostering business development through a combination of a.) Land grants
for winning business plans and b.) Property tax abatements and stepped
business earnings tax for startups and expansions.
Greater school choice for parents of elementary and secondary school
children. Proposals being entertained to this end are: i.) The abatement
of property tax for parents of school age children while attending private
or parochial schools or ii.) Tuition voucher programs. The city school
system will save the approximate $9,000 in annual spending per public school
student for each child whose family chooses a private or parochial school.
The associated loss in property tax revenue, in the first plan for example,
will be relatively small since the abatement would apply only to parents of
school age children and only for their primary residence. This would not
impact the various state and federal sources of public school funding. It
would benefit the public school system by a net increase in available funds
per student as well as increasing the teacher-to-student ratio.
Additionally, the presence of nearby private and parochial schools increases
the neighborhood property values. Since the public school system derives a
substantial portion of its budget from property tax it is likely that a net
gain in public funding would result.
Improving the accountability of property conditions.
Expanding public, urban natural areas and increasing the percentage of
green space for residential development. Of special interest is the
restoration of Mississippi River front natural areas and natural stream
Health insurance discounts for the working poor near or below the poverty
level. The health insurance plan would allow workers to make affordable,
weekly payroll deductions to pay the employee's portion of a low-cost health
insurance plan. Dependents could be added to their parents' plan at an
additional, but discounted rate. The remaining plan costs would be provided
through government monies. The plan would make use of existing, competitive
health care and insurance providers. Suitable sources of funding might
include an employer match or additional sales tax on alcohol, tobacco, and
lottery tickets. The concept is to model the way in which middle and upper
income families and their employers provide health insurance for families
and to tap into the competitive costs of a free market health industry.
Favors Section 8 Housing reform. Uniform drug testing of adult
applicants. Enforce clear property maintenance standards.
Prosecuting drug users as well as drug dealers. The overall crime rate
has risen in the city in spite of the economic boom. Drug use by adult
arrestees stood at 71.7% for males and 69.3% for females. The clear link
between criminal behavior and drug use warrants increased emphasis on drug
enforcement. The most effective strategies target the demand-side equally
with that of the sellers and suppliers. In other words we need to place
increased emphasis on prosecuting drug usersthey pay the salaries of drug
Mr. Wildhaber does not favor the use of city tax money for the building
of the proposed Cardinals' baseball stadium. The city should be able to
strike a deal with the Cardinals through equitable tax abatements (that is,
similar to that offered other businesses). The city may act to negotiate
corporate sponsorship or voluntary citizen sponsorship to assist the
Cardinals with their expansion goals. Spending of tax money for a sports
stadium could be better used, for example, toward providing discounted
health insurance for the working poor.
Fair use of federal and state funds that benefit the entire CityNorth
and South St. Louis.
Francis J. Wildhaber is a lifelong resident of St. Louis City and the
youngest son of Floyd and Verna Wildhaber. His parents provided for their
large family with hard work and a Union salary. Francis and his wife
Caroline reside in the Dutchtown South neighborhood and are the proud
parents of two children. The youngest son is 4 months old; the elder
daughter is 2 years.
Mr. Wildhaber has served in a number of professional positions including
that of Mechanical Engineer, Internet Software Developer, and Database
Administrator. He has worked various jobs, including that of a Union
painter, to fund his education. Mr. Wildhaber earned a Bachelor of Science
in Aerospace Engineering from St. Louis University and a Master of Science
in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla.
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