Aldermen approve city budget
By Tom Weber, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – St. Louis aldermen today (Friday) approved an $867 million budget for the fiscal year that starts in nine days.
The budget, which is 4.5% larger than this year's, includes money for two new recreation centers and for 21 more police officers; those two items will be paid for through fee and tax increases that voters approved.
The city jail's population is growing, which means more money will be spent to open the fifth floor of the new Justice Center across from City Hall. There's also money to give city workers a 2% mid-year raise, but only if those raises are approved later in the year.
Forest Park will get more money and a playground near Barnes-Jewish hospital will be moved. Hudlin Park, as it's called, sits on land that BJC recently gained in a controversial lease deal.
The city also will make a few more hires in its towing and streets departments to help during the big I-64 reconstruction project.
And there's an assumption that a new downtown casino will open later this year as planned and bring in $1.5 million in new tax revenue by next July.
The budget now lists 91 TIF districts in the city, up from 81 a year ago.
"Revenues have grown a bit, up about 2.4% or so," said acting budget director Paul Payne. "It's somewhat stable; we still face our challenges, like I mentioned, on the pension issue."
There is enough money to pay current benefits for retired police, fire, and city employees. But leaders this week predicted a $20 million shortfall on future benefits, if no changes are made.