St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page is calling on the County Council to continue with the same priorities his administration used in responding to the pandemic when St. Louis County receives $193 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
In a letter to the council, Page said the new funds “provide an opportunity to make historic investments in building a future where everyone in St. Louis County has access to health, safety and opportunity.”
When the County received $173.5 million in CARES Act funds last year to respond to the pandemic, Page’s administration used the funds to address the public health, humanitarian, and economic consequences of COVID-19, with special emphasis on addressing the impact the pandemic has had on vulnerable and underserved populations, particularly the African American community and people with chronic medical problems.
“I hope the Council will have a similar vision,” Page said. “My administration has identified several potential projects consistent with these priorities.”
- Spending an estimated $36 million to construct a new health center in North County that will increase health services and in-clinic lab capacity, and to build out a state-of-the-art Substance Abuse Support Center.
- Using an estimated $22 million to expand workforce development programs currently offered at the MET Center in Wellston. Dr. Page’s staff began planning for an investment of this magnitude in the spring.
- Setting aside a significant amount of the funds to replace lost tax revenue, to relieve historical budget pressure for future property tax increases.
- Providing pay raises of $2 per hour to Justice Services staff who provide critical services to residents of the jail and make less than their counterparts in other counties.
“There remain several unmet needs throughout our community, but I hope this summary helps in the Council’s continued deliberations on the ARPA funds, and I look forward to working with you moving forward.”
The Council has yet to accept the federal funds but was expected to do so through legislation as soon as this week.
The U.S. Department of Treasury requires a spending plan by Aug. 31.