St. Louisans say Rams settlement funds should be used for city infrastructure, staff raises

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More than two years after the Rams settlement was concluded, St. Louisans voiced their thoughts on where the hundreds of millions of dollars should go.

When the football team relocated to Los Angeles in 2016, the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Authority sued the NFL, reaching a settlement agreement of about $519 million in November 2021.

All three parties in November 2022 agreed to divide the funds: $280 million goes to the city, including $30 million to expand the Dome at America’s Center; $169 million to St. Louis County, and $70 million to the sports authority.

A citywide survey that closed Feb. 2 garnered 12,442 online and paper responses during its 30-day voting window. The city’s Board of Aldermen said that compares to 3,195 completed responses when it launched its kickoff survey last August. The public engagement platform now has 16,000 registered users. Participants were given a list of 20 ideas and were allowed to allocate 10 votes known as tokens to express their priorities.

Board of Aldermen President Megan Green said the high turnout of participants is proof people want to make decisions with their elected leaders.

“Until now, residents haven’t had an opportunity to participate in a way that works for them,” Green said. “I’m encouraged by the response and look forward to building on an approach that connects more residents to the city’s policymaking process long term.”

The top four ideas that received more than 8,000 votes include: replacement of water mains, traffic calming and pedestrian-friendly street design, raising wages or salaries for city employees and free or municipally subsidized child care for residents.

The results paint a clear picture of residents’ priorities, said Cristina Garmendia, author of the report and Board of Aldermen policy director.

“It’s our responsibility in the president’s office to organize citywide engagement and share that information with the full board so they can make informed decisions,” Garmendia said.

Replacing water mains received votes from the largest share, 46% of online voters.

Of the 12,442 registered users who voted, 77.7% identified themselves as city residents; 5.2% identified as non-city residents who work, own a business, or visit the city; and 17.1% of respondents chose not to share that information.

The Board of Aldermen will meet again on Thursday to review the survey results in greater depth.

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