What are the chairs like in the office where you work? Chances are they aren't leather executive boardroom chairs that cost $1200 each. Most of us don't get to sit in plush executive chairs at the desks where we work. You might find them in the board room of a big company, behind a successful c-e-o's desk or at the desks of the partners in a large law firm. Soon you'll find them in the meeting room for the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, who voted to replace the 60 year old chairs currently used. A $1200 chair is not the most expensive chair you can find, but the question being asked, is it an extravagant use of tax dollars, especially in light of the fact that voters just agreed to a tax increase to help pay for more police officers.
Apparently there are officers in the police department who think it's a misuse of tax dollars. Reporters don't often cover Police Board meetings unless we know of a significant item on the agenda, but someone at the police department made sure the board's expenditure was made known to the news media. We checked into the information and confirmed that the board authorized the purchase of 13 leather, swivel and tilt, high-back, executive boardroom chairs at a cost of $1198 each and a total cost of $15,574. For a police department with a budget of almost $150 million dollars, the cost of the chairs is just a drop in the bucket. We wondered if $1200 chairs are the standard for people in other important positions. So we did some checking and took a look at the chairs used at the board of alderman, circuit court, St. Louis County Council and Ladue city hall. What we found was clear, the chairs ordered by the Police Board are in a different class than the others. In fact, after speaking with several people at city hall, we were surprised to find that the chairs at the St. Louis Board of Alderman appear to be the original chairs in city hall and are over 100 years old, plus they're not padded.
The president of the Board of Police Commissioners, Chris Goodson, justified the chairs by saying that their meeting room requires a chair that is fitting for the decorum and the authority of the position. He also said that if these chairs last 60 years like the ones being replace, then it's a wise use of taxpayer dollars. We thought you should know how your tax dollars are being spent, so you could decide if the money is being used wisely.