To avoid future sticking points as nearly $500 million in federal pandemic aid flows to St. Louis, the rules stipulate three areas as out of bounds for expenditures: Local governments may not use the money to pay off debt or to shore up underfunded government pension plans, nor may they set money aside for a rainy-day fund.
Other than that, the rules have built-in flexibility that mainly require local governments to calculate how much revenue they believe they have lost because of the pandemic, and the federal government stands ready to help offset those losses.
Whatever behind-the-scenes discussions happened late last week, it became apparent that ongoing delays were doing more damage than good. Jones and city Comptroller Darlene Green opted to withdraw their objections. Jones had threatened to invoke emergency powers and spend money without aldermanic appropriation. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed because that route would have led to costly litigation and even more delays.
Hours before Friday’s meeting, Jones’ office issued a bizarre press release announcing that she joined six progressive aldermen in celebrating a two-month-old, $80 million package proposed by Jones. That package was supplanted by the much larger $168 million package pushed by Reed and overwhelmingly approved by the Board of Aldermen. Her spending measure seeks to disburse $5 million to around 10,000 low-income St. Louisans.
Originally Appeared Here