St. Louis Fiscal Board Advances North Side Pandemic Relief Bill, But Questions Remain politics

Appraisal and Allocation Committee

The St. Louis Board of Estimate and Appropriation held a special meeting via video conference on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Screenshot)

ST. LOUIS — The city’s top treasury commissioner on Tuesday released a $37 million pandemic relief package to revitalize businesses along 10 major streets in north St. Louis, but questions remained about what would become the final version of the bill would be included.

In an at times contentious session, the three-member Board of Estimate and Appropriation voted 3-0 to support Aldermanic President Lewis Reed’s action.

But the other two members said they also wanted the council of aldermen to make changes before approving the plan. The Estimate Committee itself cannot change Aldermanian accounts, only approve or reject them.

At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Tishaura O. Jones proposed three changes that she says were recently worked out with the estimate’s third board member — Comptroller Darlene Green — and others.

It would require grant applications available under the bill to small businesses, nonprofits and others to be prepared by June 1 for the process to begin then.

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Another would funnel the money through the city’s community development administration for legal reasons before it went to the city’s main development division, St. Louis Development Corp., which would oversee the program.

Green Jones reed

Comptroller Darlene Green (left), Mayor Tishaura O. Jones and Aldermanic President Lewis Reed are members of the three-member Estimate and Allocation Committee.

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Later in the discussion, Green said she wanted to remove provisions that require an individual city council’s approval for grants over $100,000 for a project in his or her community.

She also refuses to require the approval of such a grant by a majority of city councilors representing parts of the affected street corridor and any other provision, complaining that it would delay the process.

Towards the end of the meeting, Green tabled a motion to approve the bill, recommending “the kind amendment that I made.” Green did not specify which of the points discussed at the meeting she was referring to, but the motion passed 3-0.

After the meeting, Jones spokesman Nick Dunne said the mayor viewed Green’s request as addressing the three changes Jones described.

Reed denied this in an interview. He said he believes the motion relates to Green’s motion to remove the requirement for Alderman approval of individual grants.

In any case, he said he opposed it because such a requirement would help ensure the contribution of the surrounding community. “Overwhelmingly, councilors would want that to stay in place,” he said at the meeting.

Green said in an interview that her motion was actually intended to support her call for the Aldermans to abolish the grant-approval provisions.

She also wants to remove a requirement that the full Board of Aldermen must agree to outsourcing SLDC from its management responsibilities, such as: B. checking the feasibility of applications.

It is unclear what will happen now. At Tuesday’s session, Jones said if councilors did not make the changes requested by the appraisals committee, the bill would have to be returned to the committee for further voting. “We will come back to do it right,” the mayor said.

Reed indicated after the meeting that he disagreed.

Reed also said he has yet to decide when to postpone the next Aldermanic Board meeting to take up the issue.

Reed has been at odds with Jones and Green over his plan for the North Side corridor since last summer.

The mayor vetoed an earlier $33 million version, arguing that it would not comply with federal regulations on the use of funds under the American Rescue Plan Act.

In promoting his revised version, Reed has pointed to the final ARPA regulations, which allow wide discretion in the use of funds when used in low-income census counties such as the North Side areas covered by the bill.

Last week, at Green’s request, the appraisal committee delayed a vote on the revised version.

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