News 4 Investigates: East St. Louis official speaks on city’s bu - KMOV.com

News 4 Investigates: East St. Louis official speaks on city’s budget woes

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EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (KMOV.com) -

Just before the holidays, workers in East St. Louis are finding out a huge hole in the budget could leave them empty-handed. Top leaders in the city said they can't make payroll after December.

“At this point in time, can you guarantee that payroll will be made?” asked Investigative Reporter Lauren Trager. “I can guarantee payroll will be made in the near future,” said East St. Louis City Manager Alvin Parks. 

Parks doesn't want city employees to worry, just yet.

“What citizens need to know is that services will be rendered, you will still see East St. Louis police; you will still have the protection of the fire department,” said Parks.  

The problem: East St. Louis is more than $6 million in the hole. 

One huge issue: They have not been receiving millions of dollars normally collected from the state of Illinois in gaming money from the Casino Queen because of the state's own budget debacle. 

But just last week, we told you about an audit we uncovered suggesting that the city hasn't been collecting taxes from 71% of liquor stores and restaurants when they should. That was just one area of serious money management concerns at city hall. 

In fact, even today, we noticed that the permits on vending machines at city hall were out-of-date!! That was just a tiny example of lost revenue. 

Parks says they will more aggressively collect what's owed now, but we wanted to know: should leaders blame themselves for the city being broke? 

“Well, there's enough blame to go around and it doesn't do any good to say, hey, why are we here where we are? I think we know why we are where we are,” said Parks.

Parks says he wants to focus on how to get out of it now. City leaders are hopeful they'll get the gaming money soon. Parks also promises they are going to look for every possible way to make payroll --including even more layoffs above and beyond the 17 people they've already let go this year. Count on me to keep following this.

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