St. Louis County Council approves 2019 budget, slashing $35 million

CLAYTON, MO - The St. Louis County Police Department won’t be getting the nearly $5 million it was hoping for.

County Executive, Steve Stenger proposed a budget of more than $600 million for 2019 but on Tuesday, the council reduced it by $35 million across the board, aiming to retain 2018 spending levels.

“The County Executive asked for so much money for the county, we went back and said, ‘We need to do with less. We’ve gotta stop the growth of county government from a standpoint of budgets,’” explained councilman, Mark Harder.

The council said that the final vote was a way to make sure residents don’t get stuck with paying higher taxes.

Police Chief, Jon Belmar had asked for a budget to hire 70 new officers but council came back with a lower budget offer that would allow for the hiring of 50 new officers.

“There was $4.8 million that was cut from the police department budget, a proposed spending that the council determined would never be made,” said council chairman, Sam Page.

The council also added that if the department requires more than 50 officers come next year, then it would be open to revisiting that potential need.

As far as voter-approved Prop P is concerned, Page said the funding from that would not only support those positions but also help with building a new police precinct in Affton.

“There is unanimous support on the county council for two-man cars and we hope we can help the police officers reach that goal,” Page said.

Fox 2 attempted to speak with Belmar but we were unable to catch him following his departure at the of the meeting. We also reached out to department spokesperson Ben Granda asking for a comment from Belmar but we did not receive an immediate response.

Meanwhile, the council is also asking other public services such as the county health department and parks department to manage within their 2018 budget.

“In 2018 neither the parks department or the health department came to us and said they needed supplemental appropriations based on living on their 2017 budget,” Page explained.

The council approved budget now heads to Stenger to approve or veto.

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