Editorials

Rough times will get rougher in East St. Louis

East St. Louis is drowning in deficit spending and a $5 million revenue drop from the Casino Queen is part of the problem.
East St. Louis is drowning in deficit spending and a $5 million revenue drop from the Casino Queen is part of the problem. snagy@bnd.com

East St. Louis City Manager Edith Moore this week went to work with manicure scissors, but with a $5.7 million deficit she will need to take a chain saw to the city’s payroll.

She laid off five city workers. The grand total for those five spots was $193,400, according to city payroll records.

Just $5.5 million to go.

Moore said to expect more layoffs. In reality there is no way the city can cut its way out of this deficit without just closing the doors to City Hall, but cutting must be part of the equation.

Consider that the biggest salary that was cut was $75,822 that Public Works Director Roy Mosley was making before he was laid off. The city has fewer than 200 employees, and they would need to cut 72 folks making Mosley’s salary to close the budget gap.

So what can be done?

East St. Louis could finally eliminate the East St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. That’s a $400,000 luxury the city cannot afford.

Pray for the cavalry to arrive on time. Now that defeated Mayor Alvin Parks has been booted from the city manager job, seek deliverance from U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. Durbin is a hometown boy who went to war with Parks and backed new Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks when Parks refused to curb the drunken violence created by all-night liquor sales and clubs. We’re sure there are federal funds for police or economic development — maybe sooner than later if they stop all-night liquor sales — that can be a major boost to the city.

Push state lawmakers to do something to help the Casino Queen. The gambling riverboat generates $5 million less than it once did, thanks in at least some part to the state thinking gambling expansion to every bar and fraternal hall can solve everything. Figuring out some Fairmount Park-Casino Queen deal could bring back both of those ailing gaming venues.

The city will be in pain for some time, but a steady vision and fiscally responsible moves can allow something good to emerge from the ashes.

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