ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page wants to use federal stimulus money to help avoid cuts or job reductions next year. The plan is a key part of Page’s 2022 budget.
Page’s 2022 budget overview is laid out in a letter that he wrote recently to the St. Louis County Council.
The letter said, “the pandemic’s financial cost to St. Louis County Government is almost overwhelming.”
The federal money that Page wants to use will help offset massive revenue losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Page’s budget is set to be discussed with county council members at a meeting at the main county building on Tuesday.
Page’s preliminary operating budget for 2022 is $693.7 million. That’s $29.5 million more than the 2021 operating budget. The biggest jump comes from public health funding.
In his letter, Page recommended using much of the nearly $193 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to help solidify public health and public safety services for the immediate future. Page said using the federal money would allow the county to help avoid cuts in many areas through 2024. However, in 2024 the federal funds will likely run out. At that point, Page says the county will have to come up with additional revenue sources including a possible property tax hike.
Page’s plan uses about $85 million in federal stimulus dollars to help offset deficits in funding for both public health and public safety through 2022. If funds from the American Rescue Plan aren’t used to help with next year’s budget, Page’s proposal indicates that about $42 million in cuts would have to be made to the 2022 budget.
The economic downturn last year spurred by the pandemic cost the county nearly $86 million in lost revenue. This year, that loss is projected to be more than $86.6 million.
The budget meeting on Tuesday is the first of several to try and hash out next year’s budget.