Who was engaged in creating the Task Force recommendations?

The Task Force began its work by engaging with St. Louis community. They were charged to understand the thoughts, concerns, and values of the public related to potential governmental reforms. In order to do so, the Task Force conducted seven public forums attended by over 400 people and collected over 1,200 online engagement surveys. More than 250 stakeholder meetings were held to discuss all aspects of local governance. The Task Force also held three youth engagement sessions with 45 participants and three large community events that drew over 500 attendees. This community input, coupled with Better Together’s studies, were critical in shaping the ultimate recommendations put forth by the Task Force.

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Is consolidation just a way to dilute city crime statistics?

No – while it’s true that consolidation could lead to a different, and arguably more representative, calculation of crime statistics, that is not the driving factor in this conversation. In their study of policing in St. Louis, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) determined that regional fragmentation undermines effective policing — making officers’ jobs harder and citizens less safe. The recommendation of PERF and of the Task Force for one professional, accredited police department serving the entire area would allow for access by police to regional resources to help address substantive crime issues in the region.

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Isn't this effort just a "bailout" of the City's debt?

The debt of St. Louis City will be paid through taxes currently in place in the City until the debt is repaid. St. Louis County will not assume the debt of the City of St. Louis. Similarly, all debts within a given municipality will remain with the municipality that incurred it.

In other words, whether it is a current municipality in St. Louis County or the City of St. Louis, no debt or outstanding liability will transfer from one municipal to another. All debts will be paid by the municipality in which it was incurred using existing revenue streams collected within the municipality to service outstanding obligations.

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Won't St. Louis County residents be on the hook for St. Louis City's debt?

No. Under the plan recommended by the Task Force, all current debt and liabilities, including pension liabilities, remain with the municipality or city in which they were incurred. These debts will be paid using revenues collected through existing taxes within that municipality or city. Debts from other municipalities will also remain in the city in which it they were incurred. Accordingly, any revenue streams (including sales tax) within an individual municipality that exist specifically to service outstanding debt will remain in that municipality until the debt is retired. For more information, please see Appendix E (Metro Finances Overview) of the Task Force Report.

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I heard there was a local vote through a “Board of Freeholders” process. Why not that?

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.

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