The St. Louis region drives away investment with unclear, bureaucratic processes for businesses.
A shift from reliance on property taxes to sales taxes has led to a mad dash to collect as much sales tax revenue as possible.
Duplicative services and large-scale inefficiencies mean we are all dramatically overpaying for the delivery of government services.
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.
In the state of Missouri, school districts are a different class and type of political subdivision, separate from a city or county in which they are located.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The relationship between the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County is defined by the Missouri Constitution and the pathway to change that relationship necessarily lies there. A statewide vote to amend the Missouri Constitution could create new forms of government – the Metropolitan City and its municipal districts – in the place of existing, constitutionally-defined governments.
The St. Louis City-County Governance Task Force Report explains in detail the legal necessity of a constitutional amendment and statewide vote if policy recommendations to unify the City and County were to be adopted.
Yes! Our staff and volunteers are available to provide brief overviews or full presentations. For more information or to request a speaker at an upcoming event, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the research phase of the report, Better Together held 35 public town halls engaging over 3,000 people, in addition to 1,500 one on one meetings.