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A St. Louis Circuit Court judge has overturned the defeat of a property tax increase that will help the city secure bonds for stabilizing properties in its land bank.

Proposition NS was on the ballot in April 2017, where it received just over 58 percent approval by voters — short of the 66 percent required under the city charter.

But the city filed a lawsuit last September challenging those results, arguing that the proposal is governed by the state constitution, which requires only four-sevenths voter approval — or roughly 57 percent of the vote. By that standard, the measure would narrowly pass.

Judge Michael Stelzer ruled in the city’s favor on Thursday.

The proposition will raise annual property taxes by $11 per every $100,000 of a property’s market value. The increase will then be used to secure up to $40 million in general obligation bonds, not exceeding $6 million annually, to pay for the rehabbing of properties in the Land Reutilization Authority’s inventory.

The St. Louis Association of Community Organizations and city residents who backed the initiative hope it will make such properties easier to sell to developers, widening the city’s dwindling tax base and improving property values in neighborhoods.

It will also be a much-needed financial boost for Mayor Lyda Krewson’s plans to tackle vacant property in St. Louis.

Of roughly 25,000 vacant buildings or lots in St. Louis, the city’s land bank owns about 12,000 of them, and about 3,000 actual structures, says Laura Costello, the LRA’s director of real estate.

“This allows $6M/year to stabilize good LRA properties which will protect our building stock & allow easier redevelopment & re-occupancy,” Krewson tweeted on Thursday.

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