July 14, 2024

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Former U City mayor challenges $28M renovation project

2 min read

UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. – The former mayor of University City is suing the city over a $28 million project she calls a “bad deal” for taxpayers.

There are two vacant city buildings that sit next to City Hall. University City is looking to issue special bonds to renovate the old police headquarters and library.

Under the deal, the city would lease equipment to a creditor and then pay rent until 2049. Former Mayor Shelley Welsch says it goes against voters wishes.

“Back in 2016, the residents of University City passed Proposition H, that said nothing could be done with these buildings in our Civic Plaza without a vote of the people. So, no matter what I or anybody else thinks of the project, we believe it must go to a vote of the people first,” Welsch said. “At the end of 25 years, the taxpayers of University City will have paid about $45 million. Our lawsuit is on whether or not you should have a vote—but I do not believe this is a good project.”

FOX 2 reached out to the office of City Manager Gregory Rose, and a spokesperson sent the following statement:

“The city is confident in its recommendation for the use of certificates of participation bonds to cover the costs of the recommended renovations and the city is proceeding with plans for the renovations, which are expected to be completed in 2026.”

But Welsch says there are better ways to spend all that money.

“We haven’t been able to do summer camps, our community center isn’t open, we’re still seeing damage from the floods two years ago. Our city needs to put this money elsewhere,” she said.

FOX 2 first covered this project when the city said it would spend millions to transfer the current council chambers to the old library building after renovations. The former mayor stands her ground against moving council chambers.

“It’s a beautiful chamber. I think people coming to the chamber feel this sense of civic beauty and the greatness when they come in,” Welsch said. “Why move it to a little room in a building next door? I don’t see the point of it.”

The city says it has not made an official decision on whether or not to move the council chambers from City Hall. But the lawsuit filed by the former mayor could cause big trouble if she is successful.

“University City taxpayers should have a say on spending $45 million over the next generation, which is going to limit a lot of this and future councils on what they can do to provide city services to our residents,” Welsch said.

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