Posted at: 12/11/2012 5:52 PM
Updated at: 12/11/2012 10:27 PM
By: Laurie Stribling
A big meeting for the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners Tuesday. They set the 2013 budget and honored long-time board member Peg Sweeney.
The budget was unanimously approved and will raise the average homeowner's taxes by $7 to $12. Budget and Finance Committee Chair Steve Raukar says the new $311.5 million budget is reasonable.
"If you compare our levy to that around the state, and to other units of government, it's below the level of inflation," Raukar said. "I'm proud of the fact the budget is fair and balanced and that it's going to continue the level of services people expect."
While setting the budget, board members took a break to thank Commissioner Peg Sweeney for her 16 years of service. She was voted off the board this November and will be replaced by Fifth District Commissioner-Elect Pete Stauber.
A reception was held in the board room where family and co-workers gathered. Sweeney was overcome with the amount of support.
"I'm elated with the number of people who showed up to say goodbye," Sweeney sad. "I mean, sixteen years is a long time. You establish a lot of good relationships with a lot of good people, so it's hard to go."
Once Stauber is sworn in January 2, Saint Louis County will have its first all-male board in 38 years. Several women at Sweeney's reception were concerned about this change.
"I am concerned," Sweeney's friend Jackie Halberg said. "I feel like I don't have a voice sitting in one of those chairs anymore."
Sweeney also thought the lack of diversity needed to be changed. She said it made her job even harder to leave.
"That brings no diversity, once so ever, to our county board," Sweeney said. "No one of color. We have no women. We have seven middle-aged males."