ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KSDK) - Lewis Reed, president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, is calling on the governor to pay up. He says the state owes the city more than $20 million for housing state prisoners in city jails. 5 On Your Side looked into where that money would go if the city got it back.

Reed says housing state prisoners in city jails costs $80 per prisoner per day. Here's the breakdown. The city pays up front and the state reimburses the city later. However, the state doesn't pay the full $80 or even half of that. It pays $21.08 per prisoner per day.

"It's just absolutely unfair to have the taxpayers pay 75 percent of the cost of this," Reed said.

By law, the state is allowed to pay up to $37.50 per prisoner per day. Reed says the state should reimburse the city at that rate, making for a total of more than $20 million.

"This is not just something that's being requested by city hall but it is actually important for the people who live here in our city," Reed said.

He says the money would help the city pay for neighborhood improvements like fixing up sidewalks and demolishing vacant buildings.

"More money for public service, money to update our rec. centers, parks," Reed said. "We're asking people to pay more for trash services. We have a measure that's going on the ballot to increase the salary for police officers and also put money into other public safety issues. These types of things we cannot afford to do because we have situations like this where we have the state that could clearly pay their fair share but they're not."

North St. Louis resident Daimon Jackson says he'd like to see the money go toward pothole repairs.

"It's ruining people's cars," he said. "Abandoned homes, I mean, maybe even rebuild some of those homes."

Kevin Dixie, who was running a community outreach event in North St. Louis Saturday, says the money should go toward making the city more "cosmetically appealing."

"I think money is always a great resource so if he's correct, we definitely should have that money brought back into the city," he said. "However, then you hold the people accountable for actually allocating that money properly."

Reed is asking residents to sign a petition asking the state to reimburse the city. There were 104 signatures Saturday evening.