UPDATE: On Thursday, Transportation Committee amended the bill further but the public has no access to the two amendments.
The St. Louis City Board of Aldermen Transportation Committee will meet today and likely vote “Do Pass” on Committee Substitute for Board Bill 104 for St. Louis Port Authority Expansion. The expansion would make it a citywide development agency and possibly give it substantial new revenue.
The Substitute is the byproduct of negotiations with aldermen concerned about giving the Port Authority expanded citywide powers for eminent domain, tax abatement, and new acquisition or lease of City property. The Port Authority currently only has powers over the City’s Mississippi Riverfront.
The Substitute says that the St. Louis Development Corporation employees who staff the Port Authority will get advance approval from the Board of Aldermen for eminent domain, tax abatement, and new acquisitions or leases of City property, before they bring said proposals to the Port Authority Commission.
The Substitute does not say that the Port Authority Commission will get approval from the Board of Aldermen for these potentially controversial items. It says the SLDC staff will get approval.
What happens if SLDC no longer staffs the Port Authority?
According to Board Bill 104, SLDC has provided staffing for the Port Authority since 1989 and continues through an Administrative Agreement.
State law does not require this arrangement. The only thing State law says about Port Authority staffing is that it can hire and contract for services.
RSMO 68.025. Powers of port authority. — 1. “(20) Employ such managerial, engineering, legal, technical, clerical, accounting, advertising, stenographic, and other assistance as it may deem advisable. The port authority may also contract with independent contractors for any of the foregoing assistance;”
Attached to the Board Bill is a Cooperation Agreement between the City and SLDC with a recitation of the Board Bill’s provisions on SLDC employees getting approvals from the Board of Aldermen. And, then, the Cooperation Agreement clearly says that Agreement is contingent on continuation of the Administrative Agreement between Port Authority and SLDC.
So, again, what happens if SLDC no longer staffs the Port Authority?
If the Port Authority hires its own staff or contracts with another entity for staffing, there would be no requirement to obtain approval for eminent domain, tax abatement, and new acquisitions or leases of City property from the Board of Aldermen.
This Committee Substitute should be voted down and a new Substitute written to require an agreement between the Port Authority Commission and City for approval of controversial Port Authority business by the Board of Aldermen.
— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman