A provision of the Missouri Constitution does provide a limited path to altering aspects of the relationship between the City and County by a “Board of Freeholders.” The Task Force thoroughly explored this process as they, like many community members, were hopeful of recommending pathways for city-county unification that could be considered locally only. However, a Board of Freeholders plan has significant limitations that would prevent the recommendations of the Task Force from being considered if they were proposed through a Board of Freeholders.
Most importantly, a Board of Freeholders plan cannot supersede generally applicable inconsistent state laws or previously-enacted constitutional provisions. This dramatically limits, if not wholly eliminates, the ability to adopt recommended reforms related to public safety, courts, taxes, and municipal governments, and it limits the ability to provide new and innovative government structures that could provide the flexibility for continued change, while also maintaining and preserving community identity.
Due to the inherent limitations in the nearly century-old Board of Freeholders, a constitutional amendment, which can only be adopted by a statewide vote, would be the way for recommendations such as those of the Task Force to be put before the people.
The Task Force Report explains in detail the Board of Freeholders Process and legal necessity of a constitutional amendment and statewide vote if the recommendations of the Task Force were to be considered.