Better Together is a grassroots project born in response to growing public interest in addressing the fragmented nature of local government throughout St. Louis City and County, which dates back to 1876, when St. Louis City broke away from St. Louis County.
The resulting absence of a cohesive governmental structure left a void and many smaller governments formed to fill it. This is why the 1.3 million people who call St. Louis home are served by 115 local governments, which include St. Louis City and County, as well as 90 municipalities and 23 fire districts. The costs associated with funding all 115 governments (excluding airport and water service fees) has reached a staggering $2 billion per year.
Better Together’s comprehensive studies look across the City and County to determine whether the region could improve both service and cost by streamlining and eliminating redundancies and better serve the people of St. Louis.
The Public Finance study is not intended to provide analysis or to compare the finances of individual municipalities or fire districts. Rather, it is meant to provide an overview of how we as a region operate financially and also to provide the basic financial information that will lead to an informed dialogue around the topic of public finance and the remaining five studies.
Better Together has completed its study of Economic Development in St. Louis City and St. Louis County, as well as the 90 municipalities within the County. This study is the second study of six that examine how municipal services are delivered to the people who live within the boundaries of St. Louis City and County, compare the status quo to best practices, and identify potential opportunities for improvement and further conversation.
Better Together has completed its study of Public Health in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County. This is the third of six studies that examine how municipal services are delivered to the people living within the boundaries of St. Louis City and County, compare the status quo to best practices, and identify opportunities for improvement and further conversation.
Parks and Recreation
The following report is the result of Better Together’s study of how the St. Louis region provides parks and recreational opportunities to the over 1.3 million residents that call St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and its 90 municipalities home. As a region, we spend over $117 million annually to operate and maintain more than 470 parks. These parks consist of 16,420 acres of land and facilities that are maintained by 47 separate departments, numerous municipalities without a dedicated department, and various non-profits and neighborhood organizations. The diversity of these parks, their locations and amenities, as well as their varying states of condition, reflect both the characteristics of the communities they serve and the resources available.
This is a series of reports resulting from Better Together’s study of General Administration in the St. Louis City and County region. It will serve as an introductory overview of the operation and cost of St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and the 90 municipal governments in St. Louis County. The information and statistical data provided in this initial report will serve as the basis for additional reports that, together, will offer a comprehensive look at how local governments in the St. Louis region operate and at what cost.