Trakas urges support for Council’s proposed 2019 budget

CLAYTON, Mo. – Sixth District County Councilman Ernie Trakas urged his council colleague to proceed with plans to cut the 2019 budget proposed by County Executive Steve Stenger.

In a release sent out on Tuesday, Trakas called the budget proposed by the County Executive “reckless” and that Stenger is “in over his head.”

“The county’s cash reserves are projected to run out by 2020 and Mr. Stenger’s budget would result in a stunning additional $16 million deficit,” Trakas said. “His budget borrows and spends on the backs of St. Louis County taxpayers.”

Trakas said that the council cannot approve an “irresponsible budget.”

“It has become clear that the County Executive can’t or won’t manage the budget responsibly, the county council has to,” Trakas said. “So, we’ve done hard work of finding a way to balance it.”

Trakas noted that there are 50 positions that the police department has reported they are unlikely to fill for next year. Those positions will not need funding. He said that the council is aware of the issues regarding compensation for county employees and they are requesting a “comprehensive pay study” in order to evaluate the current market conditions to then consider an appropriate solution.

“We owe it to our constituents to manage taxpayer money responsibly. This means not just borrowing and spending, but making hard decisions and living within your means,” Trakas said. “The council has made decisions about where to cut and we’ve been very careful. For the most part, we’ve simply frozen spending at 2018 levels, so we don’t anticipate any significant cuts to constituent services or programs.”

Last year, the council froze spending. Trakas said there were no deep cuts in services.

According to Trakas, the Economic Development Partnership will be a pay-as-you-go plan. He also said there are still a lot of conversations about the Partnership and the Port Authority’s use of taxpayer money.

“The council will continue its hearings into the Partnership and Port Authority in the new year to get to the bottom of what’s really going on there,” Trakas said. “In the meantime, the council will pass a budget to fund the Partnership for the first quarter of 2019 to ensure that economic development in the County is not handicapped.”