ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas is calling for the ouster of St. Louis Convention Center President Kitty Ratcliffe over rising costs to expand the complex.
Ratcliffe admits officials don’t have enough money to finish Phase II of the two-part project. Trakas warned more than a year ago that the project faced headwinds.
“It’s time for new leadership. Kitty Ratcliffe has lost all trust and must be held accountable as long as she runs the CVC, and we must question every dollar spent going forward!” Trakas said.
Trakas says Ratcliffe came to the county council some 18 months ago to ask for $105 million.
“I asked her several times how she was going to deliver the promised project with all the new jobs given sky-rocketing inflation, material supply chain, and labor issues. It was her chance to come clean, but she didn’t,” he said.
Trakas says the warning signs should have been obvious. And he’s not the only one.
“The council, for the most part, kind of predicted this. We asked that question early on in the process, I think it was Councilman Trakas who asked, with inflation and supply chain issues, with shortage of building material, things like that, how are you going to address that?” Council Chairwoman Rita Heard Days said. “We were told at that meeting that that was not a concern. Some of us had predicted that that would happen, but it was not enough concern for the leadership there to pay attention to it.”
The expansion project was proposed four years ago. Half of the $210 million price tag was to be paid by St. Louis County, with St. Louis City covering the rest.
According to our news partners at the St Louis Post-Dispatch, Ratcliffe said at a meeting some of the Phase II money was used to finish Phase I and there was not enough to finish Phase II.
No one is saying how much the shortfall is, but Chairwoman Days says the convention center shouldn’t expect any more money from county taxpayers.
“I have not changed my mind, and I don’t think members of the council have changed their mind either!” she said.
Trakas says he’s upset that Ratcliffe ignored the council’s warning in a deal that’s going to cost taxpayers plenty.
“In my opinion, anyways, the convention center is becoming the white elephant of all white elephants. St. Louis County taxpayers are putting $105 million into the project,” he said. “That money, they were promised a glittering, new transformed convention center, that would result in half a million room nights and 5,000 new jobs. Now, we know it was all smoke and mirrors. It’s now officially a boondoggle. One of the biggest in St. Louis history.”
FOX 2 sought out Ratcliffe for comment on Trakas’ call for her to step down. She could not be reached.