Updated at June 30 with final passage — The Board of Aldermen voted 23-1 on Friday to send the fiscal year 2018 budget to Mayor Lyda Krewson.
The $1 billion spending plan is mostly flat compared to last year, driven by a combination of slower revenue growth and increases in pension costs.
"Our revenues aren't moving as fast as our expenses," said Alderman Steve Conway, D-8th Ward, the chair of the budget committee. "The only tax that has grown of any significance in this past year is the earnings tax. We need to bring more people into the city and expand the tax base."
But Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, the lone no vote, said the city needed to pay more attention to providing basic services like trash pickup.
"You're running the people who would be here and stay [here] away," said Tyus, D-1st Ward. "Yes, you can get new people, but if the other people are leaving faster than the new people, you need to change your strategy."
- Ayes: Flowers, Bosley, Hubbard, Ingrassia, Coatar, Guenther, Vollmer, Martin, Murphy, Howard, Green, Oldenburg, Roddy, Kennedy, Davis, Spencer, Collins-Muhammad, J. Boyd, Vaccaro, Ogilvie, Williamson, P. Boyd, Reed
- Nays: Tyus
- Did not vote: Moore, Conway, Arnowitz, Cohn
Our original story
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will get its last chance Friday to weigh in on the city’s spending plan for the next fiscal year.
Aldermen won’t be able to make any changes to the $1 billion budget because the fiscal year starts Saturday. Spending is up less than 1 percent from last year, an increase driven mostly by pension costs.
Officials who draft the budget had to close a $17 million gap and did so by eliminating vacant positions and cutting the amount of money that aldermen receive for projects in their wards. New limits on travel and cellphone use also will take effect Saturday.
That deficit was high for a year when the economy overall is doing well. The biggest driver, according to budget director Paul Payne, is lower-than-expected sales tax and payroll tax collections, as well as less money coming in from landline telephones and gaming taxes.
Budget committee Chairman Steve Conway said the only solution is more revenue.
“My goal is to work with the next mayor, and everyone, to continue to bring the next generation into the city,” he said.
Conway, D-8th Ward, said he would like to have been able to spend more on recreation programs, restore some of the positions cut from the building department, and hire more police officers. He is the sponsor of a half-cent sales tax increase that, if approved by the aldermen and then voters in November, would address both issues.
Alderman Sam Moore, D-4th Ward, also wanted more money to go to the building department to maintain crumbling, historic buildings in his ward, which includes the Ville neighborhood. He also wanted more money for cutting grass on vacant lots.
Once again, he said, the budget does nothing to help struggling wards like his.
“It’s just putting a Band-Aid on a major artery, and it needs surgery,” Moore said.
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