Methodology

Prior to requesting the information contained in the Public Finance report, Better Together staff met with financial professionals at Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, who provided assistance with compiling information and developing the Better Together database.  In addition to the guidance of these public finance professionals, Bob Baer agreed to serve as Chair for Better Together’s Public Finance Study and oversaw the study process.  Baer is a retired local business executive who is Past-President and CEO of Metro and has also served as chairman of the St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority.

Subsequent to establishing the appropriate oversight for the study, requests for this information were sent to each municipality, fire district, St. Louis City, and St. Louis County.  An overwhelming majority of the municipalities and fire districts, as well as St. Louis City and St. Louis County, responded to our requests with the information sought.  This information, when necessary, supplemented the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) that were also collected either through the official websites for each governing body or through a separate request.

Financial information that arrived electronically was added to the Better Together data library, and the appropriate information was gathered and added to the Public Finance spreadsheet that is attached to this report and provides the information for the Better Together database at www.bettertogetherstl.com.

Financial information that arrived via mail or that was picked up by Better Together staff in hard copy has been scanned and added in electronic form to the Better Together data library.  As with the electronically sent materials, the appropriate figures were added to the Public Finance spreadsheet.

In order to ensure accuracy, the data for each municipality, fire district, St. Louis City, and St. Louis County was checked no fewer than three times by research fellows and Better Together staff.  As a final accuracy measure, the methodology employed was reviewed by financial professionals, who also provided spot checks of the data to ensure its accuracy and prevent errors.