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Financial outlook for East St. Louis is seen as dire

Financial outlook for East St. Louis is seen as dire

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EAST ST. LOUIS • City revenue is expected to fall by more than 18 percent next year as officials struggle to maintain vital services, according to information presented Friday.

Patrice Rencher, executive director of the East St. Louis Financial Advisory Authority, said the city must make "tough decisions" to deal with the expected revenue crunch next year. Revenue is projected to fall from $23.5 million this year to $19.2 million next year, Rencher said at the authority's monthly meeting Friday.

The authority was created by state law to be a financial watchdog in East St. Louis. The authority evaluates the city's annual operating budget and reviews and approves payments, contracts and payroll, but does not oversee day-to-day operations.

"2011 is going to be a massive challenge," admitted City Manager Deletra Hudson.

The situation is further complicated by recent City Council actions. Earlier this month, the city laid off about a third of its police force but rehired them in return for an agreement to accept 20 percent pay reductions that would be reimbursed next year.

That deal must ultimately be approved by the authority, which tabled any action until next month.

Members of the authority expressed concern over how the city will be able to pay the money back next year.

"This is going to be an unsustainable position," said Marvin Lampkin, the authority's chairman.

Hudson offered no input as to how the city will be able to pay its bills without major cuts.

The revenue decline is expected because of less tax revenue and because of one-time sources of funds being unavailable next year, officials said.

An auditor's report presented at Friday's meeting stated that there's 'substantial doubt about (the city's) ability to continue as a going concern."

Mayor Alvin Parks briefly attended the meeting but left before it adjourned. He couldn't be reached for comment later.

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