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County Executive Dooley Leaves Choice: Tax Hike Or Lay-Offs

Michael Calhoun
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KMOX/Kevin Killeen

KMOX/Kevin Killeen

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CLAYTON (KMOX) – St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley is drawing a line in the sand: either County Council members pass his tax increase or he’ll starting writing pink slips.

Dooley wants to essentially take back a property tax break he successfully proposed in 2009.

Without that additional revenue, he threatens no raises and large numbers of lay-offs. He originally claimed that tax revenue was set to fall short by $10 million this year. Now,he tells the Post-Dispatch that the deficit is actually closer to $5 million.

A KMOX reporter asked the Democratic County Executive at an event Monday if he’d considered furloughs as a budget-balancing move. Furloughs have been used by other local governments as a way to save jobs and decrease expenses.

Dooley claims that furloughs are not a viable option.

“What makes you think I have not thought about all the alternatives, all the critical needs in our county; the nurses, the police department? We looked at it,” he retorts.

“We’re going to keep these employees or we not going keep these employees,” he adds, leaving no room for negotiation.

Members of the County Council, Republican and Democrat, question why the County Executive can justify lay-offs after putting former campaign workers and political operatives into government positions.

“These individuals have been hired, there’s a place in the budget for them, they are value, they are doing a great value for this community, they are doing their jobs,” Dooley says in defense.

Meantime, County Council Chairman, and fellow Democrat, Steve Stenger says Dooley still hasn’t bothered to tell him about the threat of lay-offs. He says he first heard of it from reporters.

As KMOX previously reported, Stenger says the county executive has few, if any votes, for his tax hike on the Council, including from majority-holding members of his own party.

Stenger says Council members will not accept a tax hike, with economic uncertainty still the rule. They believe that money for raises could easily be found by cutting elsewhere and by tapping the county’s $82 million reserve.

Just tighten the belt, they say.

And “if individuals are going to be laid off, I can think of a group of individuals who they might want to start with first,” Stenger says of the Dooley’s recent political hires.

Copyright KMOX Radio

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