Metro-East News

East St. Louis City Council struggles to pass a budget amendment

For the last couple of months, city leaders have been trying to pass a budget amendment, but have been unable to do so because two council members have missed special council meetings.

The two no-shows — councilmen Roy Mosley Sr. and Latoya Greenwood — acknowledged they are aware of the special council meetings, but said the meetings are not mandatory, and will attend if they are available. One of the meetings was called for last Monday.

At the most recent special council meeting Monday night, council members June Hamilton-Dean, Robert Eastern lll, and Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks showed up to vote on a budget amendment. But four votes are needed to pass a budget amendment, and Mosley Sr. and Greenwood were not present.

There have been three special council meetings called and either one or both have been absent.

City Manager Courtney Logan said the budget amendment is necessary because some contractors who have not been paid in a while are growing anxious and want what they are owed.

Logan said the matter could end up in a lawsuit if it goes on much longer. He said the contractors cannot be paid without a budget amendment which would give him spending authority. And, currently the city expects it will run out of spending authority soon unless the amended budget is passed.

Logan also said the city has no back-up generator and he wants to use money from the General Fund to buy one.

“If we lose power, whatever is stored in the (computer) system would be lost. We operate the emergency vehicles. ... Without a generator, we would not be able to do what we need to do. And, we’ve exhausted all of our money,” Logan said.

If we lose power, whatever is stored in the (computer) system would be lost. Without a generator, we would not be able to do what we need to do. And, we’ve exhausted all of our money.

East St. Louis City Manager Courtney Logan

Logan said tax increment financing money cannot be used to buy a generator.

In addition, he said the city needs to hire one more police offices and return school resource officers to the street as patrolmen to beef up the police fleet. He said one officer is laid off and his salary is in the final budget. Logan said the city also needs a regulatory affairs director.

“This is important and immediate action is needed,” Logan told council members at a recent meeting.

Jackson-Hicks said, “ I concur with the city manager. There are certain positions we have to have to move the city forward. Things like code enforcement are important to ensure that owners take care of their properties.”

Mosley Sr. said he voted “no” on the budget amendment at a regular council meeting in May, and that continues to be his position.

“We had money in the TIF budget and in the General Fund. The former interim city manager, Edith Moore, took it out,” he said.

Greenwood said she attended the regular council meeting in June and voted in favor of the budget amendment, but there not enough votes then because Eastern was late and the council did not revisit that issue.

Greenwood said she can only attend special meetings if she is available. She is currently running for State Rep. Eddie Lee Jackson’s seat.

Mosley alleges the current majority on the council does not discuss some things with the full council before they act, something Jackson-Hicks says she does not agree with.

Some rumors are being bantered about that Mosley is holding out because he wants a relative of his to be rehired by the city. Mosley said there is no truth to that.

He insists his reason for voting no on the amendment “is not personal.” Mosley said the city cannot keep adding to it’s more than $6.6 million deficit.

Our citizens are outraged and complaining about the way our city looks. We have an opportunity to do something about it, and we need everybody on board.

East St. Louis Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks

Jackson-Hicks said without the budget amendment, city leaders can’t move forward. “Our citizens are outraged and complaining about the way our city looks. We have an opportunity to do something about it, and we need everybody on board,” Jackson-Hicks said.

No one on the council would say that Mosley is holding out to get his son’s job as public works director back. Gerthal Clemons, a former executive assistant to former Mayor Carl E. Officer, was recently appointed to the position.

Mosley said he has made his concerns about the budget known to the full council. He said they know he is concerned about the city’s huge deficit and do not want to increase it more. And, Mosley said he does not have to attend special council meetings unless he wants to. He said he has attended and plans to continue attending the regular council meetings. He is looking out for the citizens with his actions he said.

Greenwood also said she has concerns about the city’s already $6.6 million budget deficit. “I definitely have some concerns about adding to our present budget deficit. The amendment adds to the deficit,” she said. Greenwood said she has been reviewing the documents and continues to do so.

Asked whether she plans to attend the next special council meeting that will probably be called next week.

“It depends on my availability,” she said.

Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503

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