Better Together Releases First Report on General Administration in the St. Louis Region

Data in new study point to large annual costs and excessive municipal regulations

St. Louis, MO (December 14, 2015) – Today Better Together released the first in a series of reports examining General Administration in the St. Louis City and County region. The data in this initial report (collected via a request for records sent to St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and the 90 municipalities therein) shows both the aggregate cost and the per-capita cost of general administration in our region.

In 2014, St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and the 90 municipal governments in St. Louis County spent $281,078,709 on general administration. Per capita, a resident of the St. Louis region paid $213.16 solely for general administration costs in 2014.

By way of comparison, Louisville-Jefferson County, which has 83 municipalities and a fully integrated regional government as of 2003, spent $95,913,714 on general administration in 2014. When spread over a population of 756,832, the cost of general administration cost per capita is $126.73, which is $86.43 or 41% less per capita than in the St. Louis region.

If the St. Louis region were to reduce its per-capita general administration cost to that of Louisville-Jefferson County, it would result in a savings of $113,545,198 annually. Savings of more than $100 million, year in and year out, could be put toward other issues that matter to our region’s residents, such as providing additional training and resources to police officers and increasing neighborhood safety.

The cost of operating 92 local governments is far from solely economic. The sheer number of municipal ordinances, as well as the variances among them, impact the daily lives of citizens. Placed end-to-end, the 52,631 pages of ordinances that govern the St. Louis region (excluding those of Bel-Nor, Beverly Hills, Calverton Park, Hanley Hills, Hillsdale, Kinloch, Mackenzie, Uplands Park, and Velda Village Hills, which to date have not fulfilled the Sunshine Request) would stretch 9.1 miles – from Busch Stadium to the Galleria. (By way of comparison, the IRS tax code is 9,000 pages.)

“These numbers are staggering, but so are the implications of all these regulations for residents,” said Dave Leipholtz, Director of Community-Based Studies for Better Together. “When you have laws governing whether people can barbecue in their own front yard, the manner in which they walk down the street, and whether their curtains match – and when these ordinances vary from municipality to municipality – you create an environment in which minor citations can alter the lives of individuals and families.”

In fact, 27 municipalities in St. Louis County do not provide online access to municipal ordinances, meaning that citizens must review them at their local city hall or pay for copies.

To read the full first study, go to www.bettertogetherstl.com/generaladministration .