CLAYTON (KMOX) – The cold hard numbers are now official, if still disputed.
St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley laid out Monday exactly how many employees he believes he needs to balance the budget.
His proposal was summarized in a letter, distributed to council members’ assistants at about 4:30 p.m. Monday. It says “we must make cuts of significant nature” and “without additional revenue, costs — in the form of staff and services — will have to be eliminated.”
In addition to getting rid of 175 people, Dooley calls for other cuts, mostly at 23 of the County’s parks, bringing the total to $10 million. He then suggests spending $16 million of the County’s reserve funds.
County Council Chair Steve Stenger told KMOX on Monday night that he believes “the purpose of the threatened cuts is to pressure the County Council into a tax increase,” which council members were hostile to when first proposed by the County Executive.
Some council members, including Stenger, have suggested simply eliminating positions which are currently funded but are (and have been for years) unfilled. That move, they say, would save the County $21 million and avoid laying-off any actual, human employees.
But they can’t force the Executive to take that route.
Stenger explained Monday that the Council technically only sets limits on how much can be spent, simply providing guidance on the specifics of how to spend it. In other words, Stenger said council members could restore the lay-offs, finding budget savings elsewhere, and Dooley could ignore that and conduct the lay-offs anyway.
“This is the most difficult decision I have had to make in my more than a quarter century of public service,” Dooley stated in the closing of his letter.
“If the County Executive wants to make cuts, then he can make he cuts,” Stenger responded. “But he doesn’t need to.”
Garry Earls the Chief Operating Officer for St. Louis County speaks with Doug McElvein on TIAM
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