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In January, the group called “Better Together” announced a plan to seek an amendment to Article 6 of the Missouri Constitution on the November 2020 statewide ballot, to merge the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County, and create a new “Metropolitan City of St. Louis.” Better Together must obtain 166,000 signatures statewide for the amendment to appear on the ballot.
Along with the merger of the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County, the constitutional amendment would also eliminate the 88 municipalities in St. Louis County and replace them with “municipal districts,” substantially reducing their authority to provide services.
The Metro City Council would consist of 33 Council Members, elected on a partisan basis, for the City of 1.3 million population, or one Council representative per 40,000 population. In contrast, the Creve Coeur City Council consists of eight members, non-partisan, for its population of 18,702, or one member per 2,300 citizens.
The City of Creve Coeur was founded in 1949, with a City Charter approved by voters in 1976. The charter sets forth the form of government for Creve Coeur, including the role and powers of the Mayor, City Council, and City Administrator, as well as the procedures for the annual budget, taxation, elections and referendum. The Creve Coeur charter, along with those of the other 16 charter cities in St. Louis County, would be eliminated with passage of the proposed constitutional amendment.
City ServicesThe Metro City would provide most city services including police, municipal court, health and safety, infrastructure, public works, street and sidewalk maintenance, snow removal, planning and zoning, and building and property maintenance inspections.
Municipalities would become “municipal districts,” or political subdivisions of the Metro City, and subject to further consolidation or elimination by the Metro City. Municipal districts would be permitted to provide services not otherwise provided by the Metro City, including at least temporarily parks and recreation, trash service, maintenance of facilities, and enterprise functions (such as the ice arena and golf course), subject to budget approval by the Metro City.
Development and ZoningThe current Creve Coeur City Council would serve as the Planning & Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustment. However, final authority on development and zoning would rest with the Metro City.
FinancesIn order to fund Metro City services, all sales tax revenues previously adopted by Creve Coeur voters, including the 1.25 cent general sales tax and the half-cent capital improvement sales tax, would become revenues of the Metro City, as would most other existing intergovernmental revenues for Creve Coeur, including gasoline and road and bridge taxes, business license and building permit fees.
Municipal districts would continue to levy property taxes, utility taxes, and certain fees, and would continue to be responsible for outstanding debt and pension liabilities. Creve Coeur voters approved a $10.7 million bond issue to build a new police station in 2016. This debt would be the responsibility of the new Creve Coeur Municipal District, although police services would be provided by the Metro City.
City Council Policy PositionIn 2017, the Creve Coeur City Council adopted Resolution 1313 opposing a statewide vote on governmental reorganization of the city, county or municipalities therein, stating that “all discussions and votes on any plans to change their local government structure should be held only by residents of the City and the County.” Article 6 of the Missouri Constitution already provides for the formation of a “Board of Freeholders/Electors” who have the power to consolidate and reorganize governments of St. Louis City and County, subject to approval of the residents of the City and County.
The City of Creve Coeur is a member of the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis, and its Board of Directors has adopted a resolution opposing the Better Together plan, and has instead recommended that a Board of Electors/Freeholders be established by St. Louis City and County.
Creve Coeur citizens are encouraged to become informed about the merger proposal. More information is provided on the City’s website. The City of Creve Coeur is also planning to hold a public forum on the proposal, a date for which will be announced in the Creve Coeur Newsletter.
(The above text was published in the April 2019 Creve Coeur Resident Newsletter.)
During the City Council meeting on March 25, the Creve Coeur City Council passed Resolution 1423 calling for the withdrawal of the “Better Together” constitutional amendment initiative petition. Instead, the resolution calls for the people of the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County, including Creve Coeur, to develop a proposal that addresses regional issues, to be approved by directly affected voters. The City Council meeting agenda from March 25, including Resolution 1423, is available here.
The Creve Coeur City Council held a work session on April 8 at 6:00 p.m. to discuss the Better Together proposal with a Better Together representative and Terry Jones, professor emeritus of political science and public policy administration at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
The City of Creve Coeur is also planning to hold a public forum on the Better Together proposal on June 6 at 7:00 p.m., with representatives attending from Better Together and the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis. More details about the public forum will be announced closer to the event.
More information about the Better Together proposal is available on the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis website.