Plans are advancing to ask St. Louis area voters to approve a sales tax increase to raise $760 million to fund improvements to area parks and trails, and to help service a proposed $100 million bond issue to renovate the Gateway Arch and its grounds.

The St. Louis County Council last week introduced a bill placing the question on the April ballot. The county must act by next month to meet a deadline.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen's parks committee also last week voted to advance the measure to a vote of the full board of aldermen. The board's approval is also needed to put the question on the April ballot.

The increase is expected to generate an additional $38 million annually to fund slated improvements. About $11 million of the annual funding would help repay proposed borrowing for the arch renovations.

St. Charles County is also weighing acting on the tax. The state legislature passed a measure allowing for a public vote on a sale tax increase to fund improvements to parks in both counties and St. Louis and for the Gateway Arch grounds. To be enacted, St. Louis County voters must approve the increase and voters in either St. Louis or St. Charles must also sign off.

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