ST. LOUIS (AP) - Finding money to purchase body cameras that’s estimated to cost up to $2 million for St. Louis’ police force appears elusive as more than a dozen Board of Aldermen members oppose a proposal to use “ward capital money” to pay for the technology.
They instead want the city to explore other funding sources in seeking to buy the devices, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1NEid0y ) reported. St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green had proposed at the Thursday meeting of the three-member Board of Estimate and Apportionment to ask members of the Aldermen Board to use their capital ward funds to purchase the equipment.
Taxpayers every year through a half-cent sales tax contribute about $8 million that’s divided among 28 aldermanic wards. Aldermen use the money at their discretion to pay for improvements, such as street work, within their ward.
Green said the 28 accounts have a total of $30 million in unspent money that could be used toward the purchase of body cameras, but aldermen say at least $20 million already is earmarked for parks, as required by a bond issue.
“I believe it is a fair and prudent use of tax dollars, at this time, to reallocate these funds and is in the best interest of the citizens of St. Louis, in light of the current social instability,” Green said.
The board, made up of Green, Mayor Francis Slay and Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, adjourned the meeting without taking action.
Reed said Green’s calculations were “completely misleading.” At least 14 board members signed a Thursday letter to Green, saying they don’t support the use of capital ward funds for the cameras and suggested finding alternative sources.
Still, if a funding source is found, the issue may prove moot; the city’s police union must agree through collective bargaining for officers to use the cameras.
The city approved a budget in June that didn’t include money for body cameras. The police department was allocated about $120 million from the city’s general fund, including $2.7 million for materials and supplies and $529,000 for equipment and leases.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com
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