CITY HALL – In a sign of tension between two key city officials, Comptroller Darlene Green is demanding that Mayor Lyda Krewson sign an agreement acknowledging Green as the city’s chief financial officer.
A legally binding memorandum of understanding that Green wants Krewson to sign says that “the mayor acknowledges, agrees, and consents to defer to the experience, judgment and the authority of the comptroller as established by the City Charter” and “agrees to defer to the comptroller’s preferred options in all city financings and financial matters of the city.”
Green, Krewson and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed make up the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, which approves financial matters for the city. Green often is involved in clashes in that group.
The mayor won’t sign, said Krewson’s chief of staff, Stephen Conway.
“We see no need to sign some memorandum that the comptroller sent over, because everybody’s duties are defined in the charter. The mayor and the (Board of Aldermen’s) president and other elected officials do have the right to ask questions,” Conway said.
Conway said the comptroller’s letter had come up after two or three meetings of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment.
“In those meetings, Board President Lewis Reed and the mayor asked questions about the convention center refinancing and about the airport,” Conway said. “But they have the obligation to ask questions.”
But the comptroller said in a statement that the mayor’s actions had forced her hand.
“No other mayor I served with felt the need to tamper with the city’s finances in the heavy-handed manner that this mayor is using,” Green said.
“Her tampering became impossible to ignore this spring and summer as she held up issuing the airport bond refunding and caused the public to believe there were two financing options,” the comptroller continued.
“That the airlines needed to intervene and ask the mayor to stop and support the comptroller’s refinancing plan tells you how significant this mayor’s overreach has become and what’s at stake for the city’s finances,” Green said.
“The checks and balances inherent in the St. Louis City Charter matter. This (memorandum) asks Mayor Krewson to acknowledge and respect those checks and balances so that we can work collaboratively to serve the citizens of St. Louis.”
Green’s office provided a letter sent to Krewson in June about the refinancing of $93 million in airport bonds. The reduced costs to Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, the airport’s biggest airlines, could cut rates to flyers, she said. Out of two options, Green said she favored one that she said would reduce the cost. She said the two airlines did, too.