St. Louis County Executive is defending his proposed budget that includes layoffs and closing some 20 parks and other facilities. In a letter to the county council dated Tuesday, Dooley laid out the options for dealing with declining property tax revenues and rising costs. Dooley says it’s time for the county to live within its means.
"Look at the budget and the numbers will tell you exactly what I’m saying. We cannot continue to subsidize from the rainy day fund, the budget. We can’t anymore. The money is just not there anymore. We have to make reductions in services in order to match our budget," Dooley told reporters Tuesday.
Dooley’s recommendations include eliminating funding for 175 jobs and shutting down parks, including Lone Elk, George Winter and Fort Bellefontaine. In another cost-cutting move, the county would stop plowing subdivision streets in unincorporated areas when it snows 2 inches or less. Dooley's budget projects that would save $277,000 in overtime, fuel and salt.
All told, Dooley estimates the cuts would save the county $10 million.
The chairman of the county council, Steve Stenger says the cuts are not necessary and that Dooley is just reacting to the rejection of a property tax hike proposal this year. Stenger says the county is not in a budget crisis and that the budget could be balanced by not filling vacant positions and by slowing down county hiring.