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Aldermen approve a variety of bills before summmer break

By Rachel Lippmann, St. louis Public Radio

St. Louis – The St. Louis Board of Aldermen sent a flurry of bills to Mayor Francis Slay on Friday, the day before the board's traditional summer break.

Aldermen approved measures that add gender identity and expression to the city's anti-discrimination ordinance, put stricter controls on the use of official cars, and ask voters in November to weigh in on local control of the police department and whether to increase the maximum fines for a municipal ordinance violation.

Aldermen also sent Mayor Francis Slay the pay plans for the city's municipal employees. The plans end the sick leave buyback, a program that allows workers to use accumulated sick time to bump up pensions and salary at retirement. Employees can use the time they have accumulated, but will not be able to bank additional time. All employees will have five unpaid holidays, and managers will take an additional five days of furlough.

Included among the pay plans was a controversial one for the city's 600 firefighters, which eliminates extra money for working nights, a perk other employees retain. Three so-called "O" days, which are used as paid days off to keep the city from paying overtime, are also eliminated.

The International Association of Firefighters Local 73 called the pay plan, combined with a budget cut Mayor Slay approved last week, a direct attack on the department, and union president Chris Molitor said he was already seeing impacts.

"Particularly with the possibility of layoffs looming, morale has definitely dropped," he said. "Cutting a couple of engine companies is going to reduce public safety."

Also Friday, the board gave preliminary approval to a measure that would use revenue from the 3/4 of a cent sales tax residents pay for mass transit to purchase and maintain trash cans at the city's 2500 bus stops, which aldermen called "gross."

The measure would not go to Mayor Slay until after the break, and a spokeswoman called it unnecessary, saying the mayor's office is already working with Metro to place trash cans at bus stops.

But Alderman Craig Schmid said Metro didn't pay attention until aldermen made the proposal.

"I suggest to you that this legislation had to be introduced and people needed to stand up and say that there's a problem with trash which we have all known for at least the last decade or more, before there was any action," he said.

A Metro spokeswoman had no comment

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