Sunset Hills now has a separate budget fund for money from Proposition P, the half-cent sales tax St. Louis County voters approved in April 2017 to fund police and public safety, after Mayor Pat Fribis broke a tie to establish the fund.
At the Aug. 10 Board of Aldermen meeting, Fribis broke a 4-4 tie in favor of establishing the separate budget fund. The ordinance will create a separate fund for Prop P revenue in the city’s budget, similar to how the budget shows the breakdown for the general fund, capital fund and so on.
Ward 4 Alderman Thompson Price, Ward 3 Alderman Randy Epperson, Ward 1 Alderman Joe Stewart and Ward 2 Alderman Christine Lieber voted in favor of the ordinance, while Board President Ann McMunn, Ward 2 Alderman Casey Wong, Ward 3 Alderman Cathy Friedmann and Ward 4 Alderman Fred Daues were against.
The proposal to establish a separate Prop P fund came about around the same time the city established a pay matrix for the city’s police department in June. The effort was in part spearheaded by Epperson, who sits on the Police Advisory Board.
“The spirit of this bill is to right a wrong that happened in this city for whatever reason four years ago. When the citizens of St. Louis County passed Proposition P, it was done for … police departments. That has since been twisted to various forms of public safety, all the way from medical staff at institutions to road repair on the same road that an institution may be located on,” Epperson said at the Aug. 10 meeting. “It’s my feeling … that those funds should be used exactly –– and tracked –– exactly what they were passed for by the citizens of St. Louis County, and that is to benefit our police department.”
Epperson added that there had been no misuse of the funds to date, but that the separate proposal was about securing the future of the funds “to be used on the right thing.”
Some aldermen were concerned about establishing a separate fund while the city was still in the process of developing fund balance policies for its budget.
“Righting the wrong is going to happen, the question is how we go about doing it. … Yes, we can pass this and then come back after the fact with a fund balance policy but I don’t believe that’s really the right way to do it,” Daues said. “The city desperately needs these policies. … It is not a travesty if this passes but what it is, is it’s business as usual.”
Stewart, who chairs the Finance Committee, said the committee gave approval to the separate Prop P fund, even with fund balance policies still to be established.