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  Advantages/Disadvantages of Re-Entry

Graden Bridge


What are the Advantages of the Re-entry of Saint Louis City into Saint Louis County?

    In 1876 Saint Louis City separated from the County in what has become known as "The Great Divorce." Today we must ask ourselves why we allow our region to continue to be held hostage by a decision made 135 years ago that is greatly contributing to the region's declining status in the global community. By the reunification of the City and the County, the Saint Louis Region can compete on the global level once again and begin to reduce the numerous perceptual problems and regional fragmentation that have resulted from that fateful decision.
  1. Perhaps most important is the reversal of the 'us vs. them' thinking that has plagued the City and the County for decades. The 'us vs. them' mentality prevalent in the region is highly destructive and makes our region look unwelcoming to outsiders who really do not understand the way our area works. In other regions, this type of thinking has been replaced by a willingness to work together for a greater good. Why do we continue to tolerate it in our great metropolitan region? Such a destructive way of thinking has led to decades of economic stagnation, flat population growth and reduced job creation. Too many outside the region perceive St. Louis as a city that time has passed by. Simply put, whatever image the City gets painted with, the County does too. When that image is one of crime and decay, few businesses and residents will want to locate here. With one small step, the City re-enters the County and once again reconnects its heritage. By the City and County rejoining, we make a bold move toward growth and possibility. We make a statement that we intend to work together.

  2. Residents of our region like their accessible local governments, and we are in favor of autonomy and self-determination. Significant savings, however, could come from sharing some services - as much as $10 to $40 million, as shown in the recent PFM consultant's report. By the City re-entering the County, such changes can occur gradually over time without the need for a massive overhaul of the entire system. The primary goal of bringing the area's largest municipality back into the County would be higher quality government services for the entire county at a lower cost.

  3. The enhanced County population would gain a greater respect in Missouri government. Currently, the City and County compete for scarce state resources even though the area is the economic engine that drives the state's economy. By re-entry, the County and City both benefit from cooperation and hold more influence in state politics than could ever be achieved separately. To put this in perspective, the County's population would be 1.32 million, compared to the next largest county in Missouri (Jackson) at 674,000. Saint Louis City and County combined accounts for nearly one-fourth of the entire state's population and its political influence should correspond to our population base and economic importance.

    Coordinated economic development efforts could take place so that instead of competing against one another, the City and County can compete against other regions nationally. With the City in the County, we can ensure greater local cooperation to attract new industries to the area and better, high paying jobs.

  4. Saint Louis is a wonderful place to live filled with great people and world-class attractions; yet many consider Saint Louis to be a well-kept secret. We need to change that perception so that more people and businesses see Saint Louis as a high quality, livable community. This means solving common problems that cross current political boundaries.

  5. One of these perceptual changes is the possibility of statistical reclassification that could, for example, change the way the City reports its crime and other statistics. Saint Louis City and County combined would have a metropolitan crime ranking closer to 100 instead of 1 - a big difference when it comes to perception! By reporting our statistics on a regional level, all of Saint Louis's numbers would be drawn from the 590 square miles that make up Saint Louis City and County combined, instead of the mere 66 square miles that make up the City limits. Our region is huge geographically and yet we report data that makes the entire region look small and declining.

STL-World Class City believes the people of Saint Louis are more than capable of overcoming these challenges. We believe that we are all 'Saint Louis'! With further regional cooperation, we can begin to see more college graduates staying and prospering in the area instead of leaving. We could see increased tourism and more global businesses locating in our area and bringing much-needed jobs. Saint Louis has much to offer: a big City with a friendly small-town feeling, low-cost housing, exceptional educational opportunities, many world-class cultural amenities along with a rich and vibrant history and a comparatively low cost of living. It is time the City and County worked together to create a better regional image and to show the world we are a World Class City!


What are the Disadvantages of the Re-entry of Saint Louis City into Saint Louis County?

    There are many benefits of the City's re-entry into the County, and the advantages FAR outweigh the disadvantages. There are, however, some hurdles to be overcome in order to have a successful transition.
  1. Working out changes in the tax codes and government structures will present immediate challenges with expenses attached. Issues dealing with property tax changes and City and County code changes will also need to be addressed. Sales tax-sharing policies are already being re-examined. However, the county municipalities working together to promote sustainable growth is a far better path than allowing the region to further deteriorate.

  2. Another disadvantage is the effect on the voting patterns of the county. A large number of city voters would be injected into the county's voting population, which could have political ramifications in the future. Yet the entire region is losing a congressional seat, requiring redistricting. The problem is lack of growth and vitality in the region. We need a political structure that will begin to address that problem.

  3. Saint Louis City and all of the County municipalities will have to identify common problems and work out their differences and mediate issues with one another, as they have been doing for a long time within the Saint Louis and Saint Louis County Municipal League. Saint Louis City would be the largest municipality in the County by far, which may lead to concern over inequality. However, there is already a wide range of population differences among the 91 municipalities.

  4. The re-joining of Saint Louis City with the County would mean changes for the county offices now operating in the City. However, as noted above, the City would still be the largest municipality and would need some consideration due to its size. One solution that has been proposed is to have deputy or satellite offices for those county functions in the City.

  5. Comparatively speaking, the difference between a re-entry and a full City-County merger is that the cities in the County would retain complete autonomy, and no municipal services would need to be eliminated as no current municipal boundaries will be changed. We would achieve an important perceptual change on the regional level, both from reporting statistics more representatively and from greater cooperation in the region.

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