Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gambling Pie Slices Shrink; Fight for a Piece Heats Up

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gambling Pie Slices Shrink; Fight for a Piece Heats Up

Article excerpt

The debate in St. Charles on how to use casino gaming revenue probably will intensify as less money is left to divvy up.

Already, City Council members have earmarked two-thirds of this year's $3.5 million in projected revenue. That means that only about $1 million is left to plan.

The council's priorities are not expected to easily mesh with those of Mayor Grace Nichols. No final decisions have been made on any of the money.

The latest recommendation from the council came last week, when members approved a motion to commit $750,000 of the gambling money this year to park improvements. The mayor supported the proposal.

Council members also agreed with the finance director that St. Charles must honor its financial commitments to eliminate a deficit in the self-insurance fund, buy new cable-television equipment and cover employees' raises granted in November.

Council members and the mayor agree that buying cable-TV equipment and eliminating the deficit in the self-insurance fund should be done as soon as possible. But differences in other areas are emerging.

For instance, Nichols has proposed spending $200,000 for buying property in a special taxing district. One of her opponents for re-election, Councilman Allen Kircher, 2nd Ward, opposes that expense as unnecessary.

Nichols also has suggested spending about $100,000 in the next six months to hire a part-time employee to write grant proposals, a police records clerk, another building inspector and two more police officers and to buy two police vehicles. She said the priorities were items that council members had said in the past they supported.

But several council members have said recently that gaming money should not be used for recurring expenses, such as new employees.

And council member Vicki White, 4th Ward, questioned the need to buy two more police cars after St. …

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