Posted by admin on Mon, 03/09/2015 - 18:21
By Lewis E. Reed,
 
Prepared for: Budget Director Paul Payne and Members of the Board of E & A
 
The City of St. Louis has an opportunity to improve quality of life in neighborhoods by making strategic investments that significantly transform the social and capital infrastructure of our city to better prepare residents for productive life and reduce incidence of crimes against persons and property in the months and years ahead.
 
The Budget Director’s proposal marks the beginning of this conversation and holds the promise of opening new lines of dialogue among elected officials and departments and between the city of St. Louis and residents as we work collaboratively towards the common goal of improving public safety and the perception of St. Louis as a city crippled by crime. The following represents key topic areas and strategies for moving these conversations forward and includes some of the primary focus areas I believe must be addressed as we consider crafting legislation to increase taxes on residents and businesses in the years ahead. I ask for feedback from members of E & A, the Budget Director, the Director of Public Safety and department heads and look forward to engaging residents around the following:
 
Investing in Early Childhood Education
•Focus on improving literacy and communication skills
•Invest in college savings accounts for kindergartners, creating a Kindergarten to Collegepipeline 
•Prioritize universal pre-k within SLPS
 
Ending the School to Prison Pipeline, Creating Pathways from Prison
•Reengage high school dropouts
•Establish Student Success Centers in low performing schools
•Provide quality educational opportunities in juvenile and adult detention centers
•Increase the number of school-based health clinics and school health programs delivering mental health services in low-income middle and high schools
 
Increasing Economic Opportunities and Economic Self-Sufficiency
•Fully fund summer youth employment programs
•Relax zoning restrictions to encourage home-based businesses
•Target capital improvements toward neighborhood business districts
•Improve financial literacy and increase access to traditional banking
 
Rethinking Policing
•Reinstate programs like Office Friendlythat strengthen bonds between SLMD and the community
•Targeted case management for families in identified nuisance addresses
•Implement community mediation programs to reduce conflict in schools and neighborhoods
•Treat drug and alcohol abuse as a mental health epidemic in our region
•Increasing foot and bike patrols where possible
•Create a Civilian Oversight Board
•Fund lapel cameras for SLMPD
 
Improving Safety through Investments in the Built Environment
•Demolish unsalvageable vacant buildings in high-crime neighborhoods
•Invest in pedestrian lighting throughout the city, especially along transit routes
•Create vacancy plan and task force using best practices that increase homeownership and rehab opportunities, while effectively penalizing neglectful owners where possible 
•Fund home repair programs that stabilize neighborhoods
•Strategic investments in transit, including the North-South Metro Extension
 
Investing in Crime Prevention
•Provide school-based wrap around services for students and families
•Modernize neighborhood recreation centers and increase staffing for expand hours of operation
•Support community recreation, arts and after-school programs
•Increase awareness of alternatives to crime throughout the community
 
 
POSSIBLE FUNDING STREAMS
 
These needed investments are expensive and some depend largely on funding from higher levels of government. However, opportunities do exist to realign our current workforce, encourage better coordination among departments and between departments and non-profit organizations throughout the region and increase opportunities for staff training and continuing education. Increasing revenues will also be required and tough decisions will be made in the weeks ahead. My recommended approach is for a full review of the Annual Operating Plan to identify savings and revenues in the following order:
 
Tightening of Budgets -  reducing supplies budgets and selling excess, freezing professional memberships, reducing travel and expense accounts
 
Ending Loopholes - cracking down on out of state license plate registration
 
Fees for Service
 
New Taxes
Sunday, April 12, 2015
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