In case you missed today’s St. Louis on the Air, here are some highlights of our discussion with Mayor Francis Slay:
- Looking to the year ahead, increasing pension costs and retaining the city earnings tax are Mayor Slay’s most pressing issues. While he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the earning tax vote coming up in April, he emphasized that the Prop A vote in November 2010 was very different, and that getting the vote out in April will be “a tough job.”
- Increasing pension costs in the city’s fire and police departments have been an ongoing source of trouble in city government and the Mayor has put forward a proposal that he says would guarantee fire fighters the benefits that they have been promised, but would require them to work longer, among other things. Slay is calling for everyone to “come to the table” to reach a reasonable solution. Ultimately, however, legislators in Jefferson City control the city pension funds.
- Speaking of Jefferson City, Mayor Slay says there is plenty of support for St. Louis issues at the capitol. “Republicans are in control. I’m going to work with anybody who’s willing to work with me on my agenda. ”
- This year, that agenda includes regaining local control of the St. Louis Police Department. (Such a measure failed last year in the House) Because the SLPD is controlled by the state, the Chief of Police doesn’t report to Mayor Slay, or to the people of St. Louis which, according to Slay, represents a “lack of accountability. ” He predicts that this year a bill giving control back to the city may finally find its way to Governor Nixon’s desk.
- The Mayor reiterated that St. Louis needs a citizen-led charter reform effort and that the city needs to re-enter the county as a municipality. Slay’s office is in an ongoing dialog with County Executive Charlie Dooley’s office.
- We may hear as soon as the end of the month whether or not St. Louis will be host to the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Mayor Slay noted that the city continues to negotiate a contract with the DNC, but that area residents should be proud to have made it this far in the process. “We couldn’t have done this five years ago,” Slay said, adding, “we are ready now.”