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Councilman Lee Has Budget Concerns

florissant Governemtn buildingBy Carol Arnett

The Florissant City Council held two public hearings on Monday night Oct. 9 with the first on the budget It had been presented to the council at the last council meeting. The city’s fiscal year begins on Nov. 1.

Councilman Tim Lee said he had several problems with the budget.

“Here are some of my major concerns,” he said. “We were told that funds raised from Proposition P would be commingled with general fund with no transparency or accountability for the funds because I was told, and I’m quoting, it was not required.” He added that there was a bill on the agenda that would require that accountability. The bill passed unanimously later in the evening.

“After reviewing the breakdown of the Prop P funds, I have questions and concerns,” Lee continued. “It appears,” he said, “that the proposal is to take money that has been budgeted for the police and has been paid from the general fund and use funds from Prop P to pay for them next year.” They include things that are already being paid for out of the general fund. “I don’t think the voters intended this when they approved Proposition P,” he said.

Lee said that he also was concerned about large pay raises for certain positions. One position, he said, was receiving an increase of $19,000 in salary, plus additional benefits.

He also expressed concerns about the new justice center.     “We recently learned that there are problems that will add hundreds of thousands to the project,” he said.

Another concern was the closing of the health department. He said the department was required by city charter, but the budget appears to close the department and move its employees to the police department.

Lee said that the budget continues to use special sales tax funds for things that should be taken out of the general fund. He listed some things that are being funded out of the capital improvement fund, such as street light bills, salt and chemical for snow removal, and grass cutting. He questioned whether those were actually capital improvements.

In addition to those concerns, Lee said, “The budget does not reduce spending. In fact, in increases it.”

The council will work on the budget at budget work sessions, and make any changes they want before voting on the final budget at a future council meeting. There is a budget work session scheduled for this Saturday.

In the second public hearing, Ron Hamm spoke to the council about plans to open the Spot House Restaurant & Bar for a restaurant and bar at 2 and 3 Mullanphy Gardens Shopping Center. He said the restaurant would have more square footage and the bar would support the restaurant. There would be no live music.

Hamm said he was the construction manager for the project. The owner has had a restaurant in Grafton, IL called Cedar Hill for about six years, he said, and is looking to expand and open a new restaurant. He said the food would be similar to the American style food served at the Grafton restaurant.

   In other matters, the council passed a resolution urging the St. Louis County Council and St. Louis Board of Alderman to oppose any and all legislation authorizing a statewide vote regarding or mandating a change in the government structure of St. Louis City and St. Louis County and the municipalities therein.

Councilman Jeff Caputa said that he wanted the resolution to send a message to the “Better Together” group and supporters of a city and county merger that the municipalities are not in favor of the merger.

 

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