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St. Louis mayor to veto part of $168M spending bill for federal money

"I will not spend federal dollars that our compliance auditors, city counselor and comptroller say do not follow U.S. Treasury guidelines"

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said Monday she'll veto part of a $168 million spending package given final approval by lawmakers last week, as she continues to assert it doesn't meet federal guidelines.

"I will not spend federal dollars that our compliance auditors, city counselor and comptroller say do not follow U.S. Treasury guidelines," Jones said at a press conference. "We've tried to reach a compromise but St. Louis families can't wait any longer."

The conflict is over $33 million in economic development funds the bill put toward four commercial corridors in north St. Louis: at Martin Luther King Drive, North Grand Boulevard, West Florissant Avenue and Natural Bridge Avenue. Jones contends that spending wasn't allowed, but Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, the city's legislative leader and advocate for the money, says it is.

Reed said in a news release that Jones' move, called a line-item veto, "is one rooted in politics with little regard for the people who will undoubtedly be negatively impacted along the way."

"The Board of Aldermen will work to explore all our options to keep these dollars going to north St. Louis," he said.

Jones said her signature would release the rest of the funds in Board Bill 2. It includes $500 payments for 10,000 city residents, plus business grants, vaccine clinics, housing assistance and other social programs.

In her comments Monday, Jones said she's working on an economic development plan that would go beyond the commercial corridor spending, and indicated it could address what she described as an affordable housing shortage, infrastructure investments, revolving-loan funds and small loans for minority businesses.  

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