South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Council asked to OK sale of $12 million in bonds for public safety projects

County officials are seeking County Council approval for a multimillion dollar bond sale to finance two public safety projects.

County Executive Charlie Dooley this week asked the council to approve legislation authorizing the sale of roughly $12 million in bonds for the construction of a new crime laboratory and a 911 call center.

A “substantial portion” of the bonds will take advantage of the Build America Bond program, Director of Administration Pamela Reitz wrote in an Aug. 19 letter to Dooley requesting the legislation.

The Build America Bond program is a component of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and expires at the end of this year.

The county participated in the program earlier this year when it sold $58,675,000 in Build America Bonds as part of a roughly $119 million bond sale to fund the construction and operation of a new countywide emergency communications system.

Reitz noted the county’s current crime lab is smaller than required, outdated and “does not have the capacity to support the needs of a modern-day forensics laboratory.”

The current 911 call center must be modernized to coincide with the development of the new emergency communications system, she added.

Reitz wrote that the county likely would pay the annual principal and interest on the bonds using casino gaming tax receipts required to be used for public safety purposes.

“With the Pinnacle (River City) Casino in Lemay now online and producing tax revenue for the county, it is prudent to move ahead with the construction of these projects,” Reitz wrote.

A St. Louis County Circuit Court judge in June dismissed a lawsuit filed against the county by the Lemay Fire Protection District that sought a share of the public-safety tax being paid by the River City Casino.

Judge Barbara W. Wallace on June 15 granted the county’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which had been filed by the fire district’s Board of Directors in March, shortly after the River City Casino opened. Pinnacle opened the 90,000-square-foot casino at 777 River City Casino Blvd. on March 4.

The suit alleged the county “has refused to share the public-safety tax with the Lemay Fire Protection District,” citing the state statute that authorized the tax.

Lemay officials have said they filed the lawsuit after attempting for roughly two years to reach some sort of agreement with the county to share the proceeds of the safety tax. They say that district residents should not have to bear the entire cost of providing additional service to the new casino.

However, the county maintained that the state law does not provide for public-safety tax revenues to go directly to fire districts.