(St. Louis – July 16, 2021) St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green released the following statement today:
Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed’s appropriations bill failed to pass at the Board of Estimate and Apportionment meeting today because it did not comply with federal regulations for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
In this period of rescue and recovery, when the city of St. Louis has been singled out by the federal government to receive substantially more in relief dollars than many other cities, the leaders of the Board of Aldermen and the Board of Estimate and Apportionment should be working together to create a spending plan that benefits the city’s hard-working families and businesses that are trying desperately to recover from the effects of COVID-19. And that spending plan bill must be legally compliant.
Reed’s unwillingness to address his bill’s fundamental flaws—despite multiple attempts to work with him—has now stalled the relief our residents and businesses so desperately need. Instead of making positive strides towards working together, Reed’s actions not only churned division among elected leaders, but lacked real leadership and could ruin a golden opportunity for relief for the people of St. Louis.
We need to put this dispute in perspective: This is only the first round of ARPA-funded appropriations, and President Reed is holding up rapid relief because of a disagreement about longer term projects that could be appropriated later.
This kind of brinkmanship is a pattern for President Reed. Two years in a row now he blocked the passage of the Board of Aldermen’s amended budget bill. And last year he held the Board in session well into July over legislation about MSI and Airport Privatization.
Now stalled, the relief package our residents and businesses so desperately need must get back on track for the people of St. Louis.
Reed’s unwillingness to address his bill’s unchecked flaws has birthed a fresh opportunity to do the right thing. There is another path forward. Mayor Jones’ proposed bill did pass at the June 30, 2021, Board of Estimate and Apportionment meeting and is legally compliant with federal regulations.
Working together, the Board of Aldermen and the Administration should act quickly to advance the Mayor’s bill with appropriate amendments through the Board of Aldermen to final passage. Most of the detail work is already done for passage of a relief package for the people this summer.
It’s time for Reed to put his personal politics aside and do what is right for the people. The people of St. Louis city deserve much better from him. Board members and the Administration went to great lengths to help make Reed’s bill something that could benefit our city residents—but like a house built on a weak foundation, when put through a stress test it comes crashing down.
Comptroller Darlene Green is the chief fiscal officer of the City of St. Louis and is charged with safeguarding the city’s credit rating and with protecting taxpayer dollars. She is the recipient of the 2019 Women in Public Finance Lifetime Achievement award. Visit www.stlouis-mo.gov/comptroller to learn more about the Office of the Comptroller.
Originally Appeared Here