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St. Louis Aldermen Give Preliminary Approval To Allocation Of Social Service Dollars

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Development and social service agencies are taking stock today after the St. Louis Board of Aldermen gave preliminary approval to a measure that distributes more than $16 million in federal grants to agencies throughout the city.

Each alderman has historically gotten a certain amount of community development block grant dollars to distribute as they see fit in their wards - a process that ran afoul of federal guidelines. This is the first year that organizations have had to compete city-wide for the dollars.

Ald. Fred Wessels was in charge of the new distribution process, which inevitably created winners and losers.

"Were there growing pains? Yes," he said. "I think the process that we went through was by the book, it was clean."

The initial vote was 18-7, with one alderwoman, Sharon Tyus, abstaining. Three aldermen were not present.

"I don't think that the shift away from most of our neighborhood programs makes a lot of sense. I think it's stupid," said Ald. Tom Villa, one of the "no" votes. Two organizations in his ward - the Carondelet Community Betterment Foundation (CCBF) and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet - were among the losers.

"I will tell you that CCBF has served our community for 40 years, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet have poured multiples of millions of dollars in our neighborhood, and all of a sudden, for whatever reason, we were told they were ineligible for funding," Villa said.

Despite the grumbling, aldermen defeated a series of amendments that would have changed the way some of the funds were allocated.

The measure still needs one more vote by the board before being sent to Mayor Francis Slay, who supports the changes.

Here's the final tally:

  • Yes: Hubbard, Young, Conway, Ortmann, Wessels, Howard, Florida, Baringer, Kennedy, Davis, Schmid, French, Boyd, Cohn, Williamson, Carter, Krewson, Reed
  • No: Flowers, Bosley, Ingrassia, Vollmer, Villa, Vaccaro, Ogilvie
  • Abstain: Tyus
  • Absent: Moore, Aronwitz, Roddy. (Roddy was excused from the entire day. Moore and Arnowitz were there for earlier votes, though this was Moore's first meeting back after a car accident).


Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.