Council recommends cutting vacant positions to address budget deficit

Council+recommends+cutting+vacant+positions+to+address+budget+deficit

By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

The St. Louis County Council is recommending several cuts to the county’s 2023 budget to get control of a $41 million deficit.

The council’s budget committee, comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans, is recommending cutting several vacant positions in the public health and police departments. It would amount to about 375 positions which includes 101 in the police department, 78 in the health department and 24 proposed new positions.

The 24 new positions include two internal auditors and three senior internal auditors, three administration positions and 16 corrections officers. The savings would amount to $1.468 million.

In all, about 75% of vacant positions across all departments are being recommended for elimination, amounting to $22.004 million in savings in the general fund and $5.293 million in the health fund.

“We understand that these are problems that have existed in our budget and have been longstanding and this is nothing new to us … but it is something we must wrestle with and we must get control of this budget,” Councilwoman Rita Heard Days, D-Bel Nor, said at the Nov. 29 council meeting.

Other recommended cuts include:

• $175,002 from the prosecuting attorney’s office for three vehicle purchases.

• $30,000 from the county counselor’s office for miscellaneous attorney contracts under Chapter 110.

• $385,000 from transportation and public works for vehicle charging infrastructure.

• $800,000 from transportation and public works for neighborhood services.

Pay raises would not be affected by the proposed budget cuts.

“We wish to ensure that this is in place for our current employees who have continued with us through these tough times,” Days said of the pay raises.

Days added that the council would like to meet with the county executive on a monthly basis to address future budget issues beginning with the 2024 budget.

“We hope that he will meet with us, the council, so that we will have open and honest conversations so we can put the county back into some kind of financial stability going forward,” Days said.