‘Strong South County Plan’ Would Bring Pandemic Relief – St. Louis Call Newspapers

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The proposal sets aside $ 62.5 million for the 6th arrondissement

Photo by Erin Achenbach

Sixth District County Councilor Ernie Trakas, R-Oakville, delivers remarks at the 9 Mile Garden Ribbon Cutting in Affton on July 9.

St. Louis Sixth District City Councilor Ernie Trakas in R-Oakville has proposed a “Southern County Strong Plan” to help residents and businesses negatively affected by COVID-19.

The plan would set aside $ 62.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to provide economic assistance to small businesses, infrastructure, public works, and physical and mental health services.

The plan outlines six different expenditures for the 6th arrondissement: $ 20 million for a Ministry of Public Works community stabilization task force to reduce abandoned properties in the district, $ 15 million for economic aid and small business employment, $ 10 million for household support and children’s mental health issues. health services, $ 7.5 million to renovate the swimming pool and tennis court at the Kennedy Recreation Center, $ 7.5 million to fund bonds for the repair and modernization of the Quail Creek golf course and $ 2.5 million for the creation of a sobering-up center in the St. Louis County Department of the South County Public Health site.

In total, St. Louis County is expected to receive $ 193 million in ARPA funds over the next several years. This is separate from the $ 127 million in funds that will be distributed among the municipalities in the county.

Trakas said part of the reason for his proposal was to make sure the funds are administered efficiently.

“Ideally, it will be administered much more efficiently than what we have experienced with the funds from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act, which is integral to why I introduced the legislation to initiate this conversation now and bring it into play, ”Trakas mentioned. “To begin with the idea of ​​putting in place effective and efficient mechanisms so that people don’t wait weeks and months for a decision.”

Trakas isn’t the only council member to come up with a plan for his district using a large chunk of the county’s ARPA funds. Council chairperson Rita Heard Days, who represents the 1st district, and 4th district councilor Shalonda Webb, presented a plan that sets aside $ 50 million in funds for their respective northern county districts.

County executive Sam Page has also indicated that he would like to use around $ 85 million in ARPA funds to fill gaps in the county’s 2022 budget.

“My intention is to have this legislation initiate discussion and dialogue between and among board members on the issue of appropriation of the American Rescue Plan Act money. We’ve been sitting on this for far too long, ”Trakas said. “I’m talking about… making sure that the district with the most unincorporated St. Louis counties gets its fair share.”

The district is over 38% unincorporated, which means that the majority of it is governed by the County of St. Louis and not by a local municipality.

“District 6 represents the largest block of county residents living in unincorporated St. Louis County. … The incorporated areas in the county, ie the municipalities, are all going to receive separate and direct ARPA funds… so they are not part of the conversation, ”Trakas said. “So from my perspective, the vast majority of ARPA funds are owned – designated – by unincorporated companies. County of Saint-Louis. I’m just trying to get South County and District 6 to get their fair share.

The priorities outlined in the proposal are responses to various concerns shared with Trakas from residents of the 6th District, such as creating a $ 2.5 million sobering up center to tackle homelessness and drug and alcohol addiction. . Trakas said it was also important to address the effect of the pandemic on youth mental health and that while details have yet to be worked out, it will be a parent-centered partnership through the department. county health.

“I want to create a vehicle for parents who have problems with these types of causes so that they can get help. … I see this as parent-centered, which means the parent would decide whether or not they want help and then work with the health ministry, ”Trakas said. “I’m not too interested in having school districts involved in the process. “

For economic aid for small businesses, Trakas said it would most likely be some form of an application process, although that process depends on federal guidelines for funds.

“We will obviously wait for more specific federal guidance… but I anticipate that an application process will be necessary,” Trakas said.

The proposal was first presented at the November 2 board meeting and could have gotten its first vote at the November 9 meeting – after The Call went to press, although Trakas said ahead of the meeting. November 9th that he wasn’t. I don’t know if he was going to push him forward right away.

“I think District 6 in particular has been the red-haired stepson of the county government for far too long. And by that I don’t mean a few years, I mean well over a decade, maybe a few decades, ”Trakas said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate to sit here, with the ability to get a designated amount of ARPA funds, not to make that effort. It never fails – certainly lately the attention seems to be elsewhere than in South County and District 6 and that is no longer acceptable to me.

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