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East St. Louis Could Soon Regain Financial Control


East St. Louis, Ill. – East St. Louis, Illinois, might regain the power to balance its own books by this fall.

A state panel has been overseeing the city's budget since 1990, when the state approved a $25 million bailout plan for the impoverished town.

That oversight was to end when city officials balanced the budget for ten straight years.

The head of the panel, Kenneth Gearhart, yesterday said auditors are close to declaring the budgets from 1994 to 2003 balanced. That would make ten years.

If that happens, Gearhart says the panel would stop having to approve budgets by this fall.

City Manager Robert Storman says East St. Louis has been ready to take over its own finances for some time.

But when asked to comment on whether he thinks the city's ready, Gearhart declined.