Sunday, December 04, 2011

Dooley Takes Steps to Cut Expenses; Parks Next?

St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley challenged the credentials of County Council Chairman Steve Stenger. "Being chair of the council doesn't make you a budget expert," Dooley told Stenger, a fellow Democrat.

Dooley spoke before a special budget committee that Stenger formed in response to the county executive's announcement last month that he planned to close 23 of the county's 50 active parks and lay off scores of workers to balance the budget.

Dooley also told Stenger that the council member "did not have a plan" for addressing what the administration has characterized as a budget crisis. Stenger, a certified public accountant and a lawyer, retorted: "It's not the council's responsibility to have a plan. It's your responsibility to have a plan and your plan so far is to close half the county's parks."

Stenger accused Dooley of inflating the county's budget woes to force the council to increase taxes.

At the meeting, the county's director of operations, Garry Earls, provided updated figures on the administration's planned layoffs. Earls said 173 positions would be eliminated, about 81 of which are full-time jobs. Most of the cuts are directed at the parks department but Dooley also plans to eliminate 13 positions in the code enforcement division.

Dooley said the cuts would save $10 million and balance the budget.

The meeting featured some feuding between Burkett and Stenger.

"When this committee first started, Councilman Stenger said he would show us the money," Burkett said. Burkett has also not been able to show the money or justification. Stenger told Burkett "I don't appreciate your comments."

Stenger then asserted that $21 million in county funds were tied up in what he described as "323 funded but unfilled positions" in county government. He also said that the county filled 241 full-time positions last year at a cost of $10 million to $12 million. “I just racked up $33 million" in savings, he said.

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:18 AM

    Did anybody hear Mike Jones throw the race card yesterday on KMOX? Give it a listen: