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Morning headlines: Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Forest Park Forever president and executive director Lesley Hoffarth said public input will help guide future changes and upgrades at the city's most well-known green space.
(via Flickr/pasa47)
A view of Forest Park in St. Louis.

Good morning! Here are some of today's starting headlines:

Slay authorizes $64 million in bonds for St. Louis parks

Funding for St. Louis City parks will no longer be siphoned into other capital improvement projects, following a bill signing by Mayor Francis Slay Monday night.

Mayor Slay is authorizing $64 million in municipal bonds to support St. Louis's 107 parks. The bill also protects funds from being used to fill other gaps in the city budget. In the last three years, more than $1 million of the parks' allotment went to cover other capital improvements.
St. Louis Parks Director Gary Bess says the bill also contains no new taxes.

"This all comes from money that's already designated for parks," Bess said. "What we're only doing now is making sure that money designated for parks stays in parks."
The legislation is expected to take effect in mid 2012.

Mo. firms seek involuntary bankruptcy for Mamtek

A Missouri bank has joined with four companies seeking to force a failed artificial sweetener factory in Moberly into an involuntary bankruptcy case.

The Moberly Monitor-Index reports that UMB Bank and four creditors filed a case in federal bankruptcy court in Kansas City. They want to force Mamtek U.S. Inc. into bankruptcy, so a judge can appoint a trustee who could sell the company's assets and distribute the money to creditors.

UMB already is the trustee for $39 million of municipal bonds used to finance the Mamtek project. Work on the facility halted this fall after Mamtek missed a payment and Moberly said it would default on the bonds.

The other creditors involved in the case include companies that had done work on the facility.

Social Security payroll tax cut extension shelved

House Republicans are moving to shelve a bipartisan two-month extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut that cleared the Senate over the weekend and are demanding instead that their fellow lawmakers return to the Capitol for negotiations. Missouri Congressman Russ Carnahan, a Democrat, says lawmakers should make every effort to get the benefits passed.

"If this is not passed in the next 12 days, 160 million working Americans are going to see their taxes rise, and 2.5 million people are going to lose their jobless benefits," Carnahan said. "That's not good for the country; it's not good for creating jobs and stimulating this economy."

Carnahan said the legislation sent from the Senate was not perfect but was a compromise. Instead of accepting a two-month stopgap Senate measure that would ensure fighting continues into February, House Republicans said they would move today to set up an official House-Senate negotiating panel. The Senate's top Democrat said he would refuse to negotiate until the House passes the short-term version.

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.

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