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New Ballwin administrator talks money, police facility at recent meeting

Ballwin City Administrator Eric Sterman took the lead on several issues at the Sept. 14 Board of Aldermen meeting.

Somewhat following in the footsteps of former administrator Bob Kuntz, Sterman explained the only point of clarification in the CARES Act resolution. He then used his board report as a springboard for the near future resumption of a Ballwin project that’s long been held hostage by COVID-19.

The United States Congress, the State of Missouri and the U.S. Treasury Department have all produced CARES Act relief packages in 2020. 

On Sept. 10, Missouri’s Second District Congresswoman Ann Wagner sent out a press release vehemently sending a call to action to St. Louis County to add assistance to its own municipalities. Mayor Tim Pogue spoke of that topic at the board meeting.

“As I sent out in an email earlier this week, St. Louis County is set to distribute approximately $47 million of the CARES Act funds on a per capita basis to municipalities in St. Louis County for eligible expenses in relation to COVID,” Pogue said. “In front of you tonight is a resolution of support from the board of aldermen in support of the distribution of these funds.  This is something the municipalities had to fight very hard for with the St. Louis Municipal League. We’re thrilled to finally get some of this funding back as it’s been a major hit on our budget this year.”

The part of the resolution, about which several aldermen asked for clarification, regarded specific use of the funds. Sterman was quick to respond.

“The federal government has put out guidance indicating that these funds could be used to cover public safety costs, specifically, public safety payroll costs,” Sterman said. “So, essentially, it’s the cost of having your officers, firefighters and others covered from the time period of March 27-Dec. 30. At least (based on) what we think the allocation to the city will be, our safety costs from that time period will well exceed that amount, so we will be using all those funds exactly as the federal government has outlined how the funds are eligible to be used.”

Sterman later clarified that Ballwin’s budget, like those in every other St. Louis County municipality, has seen a significant shortfall due to COVID-19. That has included a major decline in sales tax revenue due to a wide variety of business closings.

“The hope is that the amount received from the CARES Act will help offset some, or all, of those losses in our budget,” Sterman said. “St. Louis County has earmarked $47 million out of the $173.5 million they received to give to municipalities to reimburse cities for the cost of public safety during the pandemic, i.e. the cost of running our police department. It is not yet clear exactly what our portion will be, but the county has indicated they are going to allocate that funding on a per capita basis.”

Shortly thereafter, the resolution passed unanimously.

Then, moments later, Sterman offered other positive news. He proposed a meeting of Ballwin’s administrative finance meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 28, just prior to the next board meeting. He said the purpose of the meeting is “to start some preliminary conversations of financing for the proposed new police facility … to discuss financing mechanisms used for construction.”

“The meeting is to get some background of what the options are, and thoughts on which of those avenues we’d like to pursue,” he said.

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