The city's budget committee has put its stamp on next year's $850 million spending plan for St. Louis.
Today, aldermen backed away from a proposal to cut the city's contribution to the pension system for firefighters in an effort to pressure the sides into agreeing on reforms.
Instead, the budget includes language that directs any savings from reforms toward restoring police officers and firefighters.
"This full committee has sent a message that if there are additional funds, this is what we want to happen," said Alderwoman Lyda Krewson, who chairs the Ways and Means committee. "Is there a guarantee? I suppose there's not a guarantee, but I would fully expect that the administration and the Board of [Estimate and Apportionment] would follow the wishes of this committee."
The committee also approved taking $250,000 from a public safety fund to increase the budget for parks and recreation. They also added $500,000 for affordable housing - that came from funds the streets department was to use to purchase dumpsters and cameras.
The half-million dollars won't fully fund the Affordable Housing Commission, according to Alderwoman Kacie Starr Triplett, who proposed the change. But she says it's a start.
"I definitely understand the need and importance of having a home," Starr Triplett said. "Also, when I first became an alderman going door to door and talking to a lot of people, they expressed the need to make sure that we had affordable and quality housing in the city. I was actually surprised."
Triplett was the only alderwoman to vote against last year's budget because it did not include a full $5 million for the commission. She says she'll continue to look for additional money to accomplish that goal this year.
Today's changes first need the approval of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment - the city's top three elected officials - before the budget can be sent to the entire Board of Aldermen. Krewson does not expect the changes to be controversial.