County costs for Ferguson response mounting

Tab now totals more than $9 million

By Gloria Lloyd

With a new bill from the St. Louis County Police Department for $3.6 million in overtime costs already in from last week, the running tab for the county’s cost to respond to the unrest in Ferguson is now more than $9 million.

That amount includes $4.5 million in overall county costs from August, $1 million in emergency funds the council appropriated for businesses affected by looting and loss of business from the events in August and $176,000 in new riot gear and restock tear gas for police since August. That total also includes $50,000 from the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership for a public-relations consultant for the city of Ferguson who later turned out to have once been convicted of reckless homicide and later resigned.

The more than $9 million does not include the costs for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the National Guard and the scores of municipal police departments that sent officers to assist in Ferguson.

Paying the bills is the primary way the County Council has collectively addressed Ferguson, and the council will address paying the new $3.6 million overtime bill out of the emergency fund when it meets at 5 p.m. today — Wednesday — in the County Council Chambers at the Administration Building, 41 S. Central Ave, Clayton.

The bulk of those funds, $2.6 million, are for salaries and overtime, and the rest is for $18,000 for rental of equipment, $21,000 for food, $200,000 for Social Security payroll taxes, $387,000 for retirement plan contributions, $3,800 for maintenance and repair of equipment and $8,200 for protective clothing and apparel, along with other miscellaneous supplies used in the response to last week’s protests, which expanded to cities across the country but have now quieted down in Ferguson itself.

The cost of the vast law-enforcement response is not yet fully counted, and County Council Chairwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City, said Tuesday she and other local officials have not yet heard from federal officials and politicians whether any federal assistance will be arriving for Ferguson. As of Monday, the U.S. congressman who represents Ferguson, Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, had not yet contacted Dellwood Mayor Reggie Jones to let him know if Dellwood would receive any federal assistance for its burned-out business district next to Ferguson on West Florissant Road.