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

Page signs bill allocating millions in federal funds to South County

Photo by Erin Achenbach
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, left, and 6th District Councilman Ernie Trakas, sign legislation Nov. 4 allocating $18.5 million in federal pandemic aid to address infrastructure and workforce development in South County. The money comes from the $193 million the county received in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

South St. Louis County will receive millions in federal aid after County Executive Sam Page signed a bill last week allocating a portion of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funds to address economic assistance, infrastructure and public works in the 6th Council District.

The legislation grants South County $18.5 million out of the $193 million the county received in ARPA money. Page signed the bill Nov. 4 at The Pavilion at Lemay, joined by 6th District Councilman Ernie Trakas.

“I am going to sign a bill today … as an investment in the south part of our county, the part of our county that is essentially its own municipality. There aren’t many traditional municipalities here — St. Louis County is responsible for the normal maintenance of streets, sidewalks and infrastructure that otherwise might be left to municipal government,” Page said.

Of the $18.5 million, $15 million will be set aside to address infrastructure in the district while the remaining $3.5 million will be used for economic and workforce development.

“Obviously this money is long needed in South County … District 6 that I represent is essentially completely unincorporated and because of that, many times it is looked over in the past for its needs,” Trakas said.

In November 2021, Trakas had proposed a $62.5 million “South County Strong Plan” using the ARPA money to address economic assistance, infrastructure and physical and mental health services in the 6th District. At that time, Trakas said the intent of his proposal was to “initiate a discussion and dialogue amongst and between council members” on the best way to appropriate the ARPA money.

“This money is desperately needed and it will be a beginning — certainly not an end — but a beginning to needs that have been longstanding in South County,” Trakas said at Nov. 4 signing.

Council allocates majority of remaining money

The council approved legislation allocating the majority of the county’s remaining $66 million in ARPA money at its Oct. 25 meeting, including the $18.5 million for South County, as well as $11 million to tear down derelict buildings in unincorporated St. Louis County. Before the Oct. 25 meeting, the county had appropriated about $127 million of the $193 million it received.

“We understand that these were difficult decisions and that not all requests will be funded, however that does not take away from the value of those projects,” 4th District Councilwoman Shalonda Webb said before the final passage of the ARPA bills. “I just want everyone to understand that we only have a certain amount of money … and we did the best that we could with the information that we had.”

Webb headed a three-person working group that included 3rd District Councilman Tim Fitch and 5th District Councilwoman Lisa Clancy and were tasked with prioritizing what projects to spend the remaining aid money on.

In addition to the money set aside for South County and derelict buildings, other projects approved by the council include $5.6 million to address food insecurity in the 1st and 4th Districts and nearly $24 million for police-related projects, including a new precinct building in the central part of the county. Another $5.6 million was approved for a nonprofit group that boosts pay and retention for early childhood education workers.

With the passage of the bills Oct. 25, nearly all of the county’s ARPA funds have been assigned to various projects, with roughly $600,000 remaining.

Editor’s note: Read more about the South County Strong Plan in the upcoming Nov. 24 print edition of The Call.

More to Discover