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Aldermen pass pay plan, financial help for Renaissance Grand

By Rachel Lippmann

St. Louis Public Radio – The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has sent Mayor Francis Slay a pay plan that will force some city employees to take two weeks off.

The agreement passed Friday on a voice vote orders rank and file employees to take a week off without pay, and managers to take off two weeks. The police, fire, and water departments are exempt from the furloughs, as are employees at Lambert International Airport. But the civilian police employees, firefighters, and Lambert workers are all taking steps to reach the help reach the $3.4 million in salary savings that helped balance the fiscal year 2010 budget.

The spending plan passed in June, but unions and the city only recently reached an agreement on a pay plan.

The exemptions dragged out negotiations, said Patrick Kellett, the business manager of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562, which represents about 100 city employees.

"We certainly as organized labor understand that we need to help the economic situation and we've agreed to do that," he said. "But early on, we asked to make it as fair as we could."

Mayor Slay is expected to sign the measure.

Also today, the aldermen approved legislation that will help the Renaissance Grand hotel in downtown St. Louis pay its bills.

One measure sets up two special taxing districts that allow the hotel to charge a higher sales tax. The revenue would go to help pay off construction bonds. The other delays an interest payment on those bonds.

The hotel, which is located in Alderwoman Phyllis Young's district, went into foreclosure in January, and is also receiving other city and state support. But Young says allowing the facility to close is not in the city's best interest.

"The hotel is doing what it's supposed to do," she said. "It's just a matter in my opinion and others that we have to bide our time and somehow or another bridge this gap for financing while the industry grows and the economy gets back into position."

The hotel's owners are also looking to sell the Lennox Suites to help with financing. Documents from a bondholder conference call earlier this week show nearly 50 parties have expressed a possible interest in the property.

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