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Dooley Scraps Tax Proposal

The change of course appears to have cooled tensions between St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and members of the County Council.

A schism between St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and members of the St. Louis County Council appears to have been averted.

Roughly two weeks after the Democratic county executive appeared ready to , Dooley indicated that he had put the kibosh on the proposal.

“I think that’s off the table for right now,” Dooley said during his report to the council. It happened during the council's Tuesday meeting at the in .

The proposal to raise property taxes by 2.3 cents sparked an antagonistic reaction from council members, including Democrats such as County Council President Steve Stenger (D-Unincorporated St. Louis County). The 6th District representative told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he questioned whether increasing taxes was necessary when St. Louis County has tens of millions of dollars in reserves. He also said Dooley should consider reexamining recent hires of people who worked on his re-election campaign.

Other council members—such as Councilman Greg Quinn (R-Ballwin) and Councilwoman Hazel Erby (D-University City)—indicated after last week’s council meeting that the proposal was a non-starter.

After he announced the end to a push for the tax increase, Dooley apologized to the council for not being more communicative.

“What I want to do is indicate to the council that there are things that I might have said that (were) misspoken,” Dooley said. “And I do want to apologize for that. In my zeal to get some things done that I thought (were) important, I think that I didn’t do a very good job of communicating to the County Council. And that’s something that needs to be corrected. And that’s something I need to do a better job on.”

“These are very difficult times, but I believe we can do this together and move forward,” Dooley added. “Again, I want to apologize for any misunderstandings of whatever I might have said. But the important thing is I still believe there is an underlying problem that we need to address as a council. And I look forward to working with you" to address it.

Dooley’s words elicited praise from Councilwoman Kathleen Kelly Burkett (D-Overland).

“I want to thank the county executive, because sometimes we forget that we are elected officials and we are responsible to our constituency and the taxpayer,” Burkett said. “But the county executive has to be responsible for the employees of the county. And it’s his responsibility to help them the best he can with the best pay, the best working conditions and the best possible equipment to work with. So I admire your stand, county executive, in a very, very, very difficult situation.”

After thanking Dooley for his comments, Stenger said the council “looks very much forward to working with you and your office and your staff on addressing these issues.”

“And we know they are very important issues,” Stenger said. “And I think we were on the same page on some of those issues with the respect to the employees. We differ on others, but we certainly do appreciate your comments.”

COUNCIL RECEIVES COMMUNICATION ON BRENTWOOD BOULEVARD

The County Council received a resolution from the city of Brentwood aimed at getting county-owned Brentwood Boulevard repaired.

In mid-August, Brentwood City Council passed a resolution asking the County Council to “repave and restripe Brentwood Boulevard within the city of Brentwood as previously promised by St. Louis County.” The resolution noted that city is getting complaints about Brentwood Boulevard’s condition and that it received oral and written commitments to refurbish the road.

“As expressed by the board, Brentwood Boulevard is a heavily traveled roadway that is in dire need of repair,” stated Brentwood Mayor Pat Kelly in a letter. “Safety is the major reason for your immediate attention to this matter. The road’s surface has greatly deteriorated because of St. Louis County restriping Brentwood Boulevard to accommodate the increase in traffic during the I-64 (Highway 40) construction.”

Councilman Pat Dolan (D-Richmond Heights) said the council has received and filed Brentwood’s resolution. He added that it will now be referred to the St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic.

“It wasn’t originally in their budget or time frame ... to be done as quickly,” said Dolan, whose district encompasses Brentwood. “It just acknowledges that we did receive their resolution.”

Asked about the prospect of accomplishing what Brentwood is asking for, Dolan said: “I’m not sure. I’d really have to talk to (Highways and Traffic Department Director) Sheryl Hodges.”

“They already have roadwork scheduled for other areas,” Dolan said. “I don’t know the time frame … but we will find out.”

ROOF REPLACEMENT FOR JEFFERSON BARRACKS

The County Council also started the process of accepting a gift from the Friends of Jefferson Barracks to replace the roofs of two structures at the south St. Louis County destination.

The county approved communication to compile legislation that would accept a $90,000 gift to replace roofs at the 1851 Old Ordinance Room and the 1857 Powder Magazine Museum. The structures, according to a letter from Director Lindsey Swanick, serve as exhibition galleries to showcase Jefferson Barracks’ role in U.S. history.

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