Dooley announces compromise with council on 2012 county budget

By MIKE ANTHONY

Executive Editor

County Executive Charlie Dooley announced Tuesday night that he and the County Council had reached a compromise on the county’s 2012 budget.

During his county executive’s report at the County Council meeting Tuesday night, Dooley said that all of the county’s parks will remain open “at a reduced rate.” He also said the West County Satellite Office, which had been set to close Dec. 16, will remain open.

In addition, a proposal to not plow streets in unincorporated areas of snow when accumulations are 2 inches or less has been rescinded, the county executive said.

“… I’ve been talking to council members and I believe that we have a compromise that we all can agree on,” Dooley said. “And the things that we compromised on is that we’re going to leave all our park systems open — at a reduced rate, but it will be left open.

“We will keep the West County Satellite Office open as well and we will keep the plowing in unincorporated St. Louis County. But there still will be layoffs, unfortunately, and that’s the sad part about this. That’s something we can’t get away from. That’s still going to be a situation we have to address in the coming months on the layoffs …” he added.

Dooley’s recommended 2012 budget had called for the closing of 23 county parks, eliminating 175 jobs and not plowing streets in unincorporated areas of snow when accumulations are 2 inches or less, among other things.

South county parks that had been targeted for closing were Bohrer Park, Black Forest and Ohlendorf. In addition, the Kennedy Recreation Complex pool would have been closed under Dooley’s original budget.

Regarding the compromise budget, Dooley said, “… I think the council and myself are all on the same page and we’ve given ourselves 12 months to work through this process for a long-term fix … I’m just thankful that we can get together and work together as a team.

“Again, my remorse is that still leaves some people that are going to be impacted by this decision and that’s the worst part of it,” he continued. “The part that concerns me is these individuals come to work every single day, do what’s asked of them and yet at the same time, you have to make a cut and those individuals will be impacted. We don’t know who those individuals are right now …”

County Council Vice Chairman Mike O’Mara, D-Florissant, served as chairman of a Special Budget Committee appointed by County Council Chairman Steve Stenger, D-Affton, to review Dooley’s recommended budget.

The committee met twice last month. A third meeting scheduled for Tuesday afternoon was canceled.

O’Mara said Tuesday night that roughly 40 jobs would be eliminated under the compromise budget — far less than the 175 positions originally proposed.

“… They’re still trying to find some spaces for those 40 individuals. So we have knocked those numbers down greatly and I appreciate your efforts, county executive, in working with us and getting through the 2012 year …,” O’Mara said.

For complete coverage of the compromise 2012 St. Louis County budget, read the Dec. 15 issue of the Call.