The owners of more than three dozen restaurants and bars in St. Louis County filed into the County Council chambers in Clayton today with one request - please let us continue to allow smoking.
The owners were there at the request of Councilman Mike O'Mara, who's introduced a bill eliminating nearly all the exemptions in the county's smoking ban. Currently, bars that make less than 25 percent of their revenue from food may receive an exemption. Bowling alleys and casino gaming floors are also exempt.
A mistake by the St. Louis County Department of Revenue will cost the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District about $2 million in expected tax revenue.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that employees at the department failed to add a surcharge to about 200,000 property tax bills. The revenue generated by the additional tax helps MSD control storm water runoff inside Interstate 270.
Tuesday night the St. Louis County Council passed a new ordinance that in part requires contractors have a U.S. Department of Labor approved apprentice program.
That provision drew criticism from some civil rights groups who said it was unfairly pro-union.
“You know there are any number of minority owned contractors who are not union contractors,” said Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis branch of the NAACP. “We’ve fought this fight a hundred times about this language and how it excludes them simply because they’re not tied to the union.”
Supporters of a closer relationship between St. Louis city and county can take heart from a new survey.
The Missouri Council for a Better Economy, a group linked to libertarian billionaire Rex Sinquefield, conducted the survey of 700 voters at the beginning of September. It found that a strong majority of those polled thought some form of unification was worth exploring.
St. Louis County started construction on a new crime lab this afternoon and police say the facility will speed up processing time.
Department spokesman, Randy Vaughn, says the extra space will also give them the room they need for additional technicians to help take on a backlog of evidence.
“This is also going to allow a separation of all the different types of forensics, chemistry, biology, our evidence custodians, our firearm custodians,” Vaughn says. “That is going to make a vast difference in making sure we don’t have any type of contamination issues.”
The St. Louis County Council approved additional changes to an ordinance that requires lenders to offer mediation to homeowners on the edge of foreclosure.
The tweaks to the ordinance include removing the right for homeowners to sue lenders after they’ve gone through mediation, and they come in the shadow of an ongoing legal battle with lenders over whether the county even has the authority to enforce the ordinance.
Councilwoman Hazel Erby first introduced the mediation plan and is confident in the county’s case.
St. Louis County has new accountants auditing its financial records and they want changes to how officials track extra cash left in bank accounts at the end of the fiscal year.
The county’s Chief Operating Officer Garry Earls says in the past they would consider the leftover money as revenue, but the audit recommends it now be accounted for as an asset.
“There’s a reason accountants have the reputation that they do,” Earls says. “This is a perfectionism of the system, and I’d tell you outright that it is an asset of the county so we might as well count it as an asset.”