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St. Louis County Council Could Control Federal Coronavirus Money

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announces that some county parks will be reopened on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
File photo / David Kovaluk
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, shown in April, could lose the authority to direct federal coronavirus relief spending under legislation introduced Tuesday at the County Council.

A member of St. Louis County Executive Sam Page’s own party wants to eliminate his ability to spend federal coronavirus relief money without approval by the County Council.

Councilwoman Rita Heard Days, D-Bel Nor, introduced legislation on Tuesday that requires the council to vote on appropriations individually. In April, the council voted along party lines to give Page the ultimate authority to distribute nearly $175 million in CARES Act funds. At the time, supporters argued that waiting for approval of each individual expenditure would delay the response to the pandemic.

Recently, however, Days had begun raising questions about Page’s plan to spend the money. She told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch she did not believe Page was directing enough funding to north St. Louis, parts of which are in her district.

She said she was also concerned the money would not be spent by the end of the calendar year, as required by federal law. The county’s own data show that of the $173.4 million, just over $66 million has been issued or is “in process.”

Page opposes changing how CARES Act funds are spent.

His spokesman, Doug Moore, said that the county executive is “confident that all funds will be spent by the end of the year” and that the concern was whether there would be enough money to meet the county’s needs.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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