It's About Saving Jobs
By St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green
While being briefed by the SC2 White House intern, I learned that among all of the economic development projects he is working on, North St. Louis is receiving a great deal of attention from Washington, D.C. Within the North St. Louis redevelopment area is the old Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project site. This site was selected as one of six for the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Established here in 1943, the Agency has deep roots in the city.
The Pruitt-Igoe site, located near Jefferson and Cass Avenues, is the only site within the city that is being considered for the relocation of more than 3,000 Geospatial jobs. It is estimated that an additional 1,500 jobs will be added after the relocation. We all know that jobs help stabilize neighborhoods and rebuild communities. Therefore, we as city leaders should be doing all we can to keep those jobs in the city—helping to protect our tax base.
The SC2 designation places the city in a better position to attract federal dollars and make better use of existing and future federal funds. The Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative (SC2) presents city leaders with a responsibility to leverage this amazing opportunity. I urge city leaders not to politicize the efforts of supporting the redevelopment of the Pruitt-Igoe site (an eyesore for the entire City) for the proposed relocation of 3,000 jobs. The city already lost 800 federal jobs when the Veterans Administration Agency (now located Downtown) moves to Overland.
I have known for some time now that our elected leaders in Washington, D.C. are ready to stand with us in support of the Pruitt-Igoe site for relocation of the Geospatial jobs. As Comptroller, I strongly believe that as elected leaders we can find common ground and stand in solidarity with our national bi-partisan delegation to save jobs. The future of our city is at stake- it's about saving jobs not about saving face.
The City has been very fiscally responsible regarding the issuance of GO bonds over the years. Unlike other cities, GO bonds here are issued sparingly. In 1999 we issued $65 million for public safety;in 2005 we refinanced those bonds saving taxpayers $1.7million. Then, in 2006 we issued $13 million with no tax increase for flood wall repairs and public safety communication equipment. We are truly blessed that the voters have supported the past GO bonds. Taxpayers should be asked to vote on things that benefit the whole city. Working to protect 3,000 jobs that represent $4 million in annual tax revenue will be used to deliver services citywide, and benefit us all. And after 40 years, it will finally eliminate an eyesore—again, a benefit to us all.
The city will use the funds for public safety equipment, infrastructure, demolition, and a host of city-wide projects. The proposed $25 million infrastructure is purposed for supporting the relocation of the 3,000 Geospatial jobs. It will be used to rebuild roads in the area and for infrastructure citywide. If the area is not selected, the redeveloped site will serve as a catalyst for attracting major users and more jobs.
Now, about home repairs. As Comptroller, I whole heartily support funding for home repairs for city homeowners. But, the GO is not the appropriate funding tool for such a purpose in St. Louis city. Other cities may issue GO bonds more frequently and for purposes that include home repairs. But, as Comptroller, I work hard to protect the credit of the city by managing taxpayer dollars in the manner that is in the best interest of our taxpayers. We will be able to fund home repairs right out of the regular city budget. In addition, we are going to provide funding for residential energy efficiency projects. Both funding programs are slated to roll out this fall.
Working together we can make our city a better place to live, work, and play.
Office of the Comptroller
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