Emeka Jackson-Hicks | St. Louis Public Radio

Emeka Jackson-Hicks

The Mississippi River as seen Sept. 13, 2017, from the Four Seasons Hotel in Laclede's Landing at St. Louis.
Chelsea Hoye | St. Louis Public Radio

Leaders of Mississippi River communities want to update and upgrade their infrastructure, but said Wednesday they’ll need outside financial help.

The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative held its annual meeting in St. Louis. About 30 mayors were there to talk about how their communities can survive natural disasters like hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The mayors also discussed strategies for attracting private investments for city improvements.

City Manager Alvin Parks, Jr. (left), Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks, financial consultant Dawayne Stewart and budget director Egzabia Bennett speaks to reporters Friday, Nov. 20, 2015 in East St. Louis.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

As East St. Louis scrambles to fill an immediate cash shortage and find ways to reduce a projected 2016 deficit of $5.9 million, an independent review of its finances shows that the city may not have collected all its revenue last year.

Overall, the St. Louis firm Brown Smith Wallace found that East St. Louis lacked the records and policies needed to insure it received all the money it was owed in 2014.

East St. Louis City Manager Alvin Parks leans over the city council table Thurs. Nov. 12, 2015 to speak to Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks.
File Photo |Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 11 p.m. with the results of the East St. Louis City Council meeting- The East St. Louis City Council unanimously approved a 2016 budget Monday night with a projected deficit of nearly $6 million. Most of that deficit is carried over from prior years.

 

“We understand that there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, but we wanted to make sure we pass a budget going into a new year,” said City Council President Pro Tem Robert Eastern. “We didn’t want to hold the city’s business up.”

East St.  Louis Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The mayor of East St. Louis says she is being left out of the decision-making process at city hall. She’s also accusing the city manager of violating the policies of the city council.

“I will not be circumvented without letting the citizens know exactly what is going on because I will not and do not want to be held accountable for decisions being made without my input or for situations that are out of my control,” Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks told St. Louis Public Radio ahead of a Sunday afternoon news conference billed as an emergency discussion.

Members of the Local 23 firefighters union pass out school supplies to parents and children Saturday, August 22, 2015 in East St. Louis' Lincol Park.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

East St. Louis city government is in flux after a contentious city council meeting left both officials and residents divided.

On Thursday, the City Council replaced Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks' pick for city manager with former mayor Alvin Parks Jr.

“This is not to say anything bad about the past administration, but the past administration was there for eight years. And if the people wanted him back they would have voted him back,” Jackson-Hicks told St. Louis Public Radio Saturday. “I'm just not sure where we're going from here.  I really don't know.”

East St.  Louis Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

East St. Louis employees across all departments could be facing layoffs due to a budget deficit approaching $5.7 million by 2016.

“We will make every effort as an administration to review all legal options and only look at layoffs as a last resort. However at this point we really do not see how the city will avoid layoffs,” said Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks in a prepared statement to news outlets Sunday afternoon.