St. Louis city budget in the hands of the aldermen

Apr 26, 2011

A budget that proposes laying off 20 city workers to help close a $30 million gap is in the hands of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

The Board of Estimate and Apportionment approved today their version of theĀ  spending plan for the budget year that starts July 1. Next stop? The Ways and Means committee, which is free to make changes, though any additional spending must be balanced by a cut elsewhere.

Mayor Francis Slay, comptroller Darlene Green, and board president Lewis Reed today made their own last-minute adjustments, including:

  • 12 additional positions for the corrections division. That will help the department staff the 5th floor of the City Justice Center, which houses mentally ill and exceptionally violent prisoners. The need for the more secure housing shot up after the state ordered the closure of a short-term psychiatric treatment facility last July, and corrections commissioner Gene Stubblefield says guards are having to work mandatory overtime to staff it, which poses a public safety risk. But he says that in no way contributed to last week's jail break, which he called an isolated incident.
  • Two additional prosecutors requested by circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce. Joyce requested those positions last year, but then used the funds to give raises to her employees, defying a request from budget director Paul Payne. President Reed says the prosecutor told him she has trouble holding on to qualified prosecutors because salaries are so low.
  • A third refuse crew to help empty the thousands of city-owned trash cans, and those once emptied by neighborhood organizations or businesses that may be defunct. The streets department says it's currently doing the work of about 3.5 crews with two crews.
  • $100,000 of city money for the After School for All program. Mayor Francis Slay says the money is necessary to keep together the package of state and private sector dollars, and will allow the city to also apply for a foundation grant.

None of these changes are guaranteed to survive aldermanic review. The budget will be officially introduced on Friday - expect Ways and Means to start meeting shortly thereafter.