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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mayor Slay Recommends St. Louis City Re-Enter St. Louis County

On MayorSlay.com, the mayor bluntly stated that the city should rejoin the county, citing inefficiencies involved in regional infighting. In red below is a good portion of his blog post:

Competing against the world for new employers is hindered by the fact that much of our energy is spent competing with each other – municipality against municipality, City versus County.
...
If St. Louis is going to stay competitive both nationally and globally, we have to work together as a region, rather competing against each other as fiefdoms. And we have to make more sense to people from outside the region.

How? As an important early step, the City of St. Louis should re-enter St. Louis County and the two should work together to create partnerships in public safety, parks maintenance, sustainability, and economic development.

...
The change would be a good, dramatic story. St. Louis County’s population would grow by 360 thousand residents, making it one of the “fastest growing” counties in the country. It would be able to count within its boundaries dozens of vibrant neighborhoods, including most of the historic ones; a sizable percentage of the state’s jobs; the cathedrals of several religions; the venues for three major professional sports; the stage of a major symphony orchestra; double or triple the number art galleries it now has; a menu of great restaurants; almost a hundred new parks; several new universities and colleges; and the state’s largest and best equipped police and fire departments.


What do you think: would a symbolic reconciliation of the "Great Divorce of 1876" contribute to a healthier, more cooperative region? Would it ever even happen?

I support the idea, but have one fear. When I read about previous attempts to combine the City and County, it was always mentioned that the entire state of Missouri would have to vote and approve such changes to county boundaries. Does anyone know if this indeed would be the process of getting this done? Other thoughts?

Click here to read the whole post.

9 comments:

Daron said...

It seems more reasonable to drop the big merger and focus on the little victories until the big merger doesn't matter.

There ought to be one library system, or at least a shared library card. Push that for a while.

Maybe city planning ought to be a regional planning office. Maybe not. Lots of things should be merged, specifically the ones that Slay is complaining about.

Terry Jones, former dean at UMSL, said that the merger would take up two years of political capital that would be diverted from other things.
I bet it would. We can only get so many victories at a time.

I'd prefer the mayor to pursue the low-hanging fruit in the merger issue. If we merged in all but name, then we could ensure that whatever is left to the city is worth keeping.

The Urbanophile posted on Louisville's consolidation a while back,
http://www.urbanophile.com/2010/02/19/replay-an-examination-of-city-county-consolidation/

Ben said...

Many people call this a merger, but it's not - the City and County would still be distinct entities, it's just that the City would now be one of many municipalities in the County.

Sure, it'll be a good thing but it's not some magic bullet that will suddenly consolidate the whole region into one cohesive, happy family.

Peter said...

My only worry is that most of the 'county' offfices that St. Louis City has now would be moved to Clayton, bringing a new wave of vacant buildings Downtown.

STLgasm said...

Yeah Peter, good point. Since Clayton is the county seat, what would become of the City's governmental agencies? The courts?

I agree that this notion is such a pipe dream, and the region should focus on more realistic goals (ahem-TRANSIT!-cough).

This may be an unpopular viewpoint, but there are some inherent advantages to being an independent city. While we are choked of an expanded tax base, we are free of the more conservative mindset that pervades in the suburbs. After all, that's why the City split from the county in the first place.

If we had strong leadership that would seize this advantage, we would be a better city. Instead, we bend over backwards to become more like the suburbs. Olympia's recent destruction of homes in the name of parking is a prime example.

I've said this time and again-- As long as the City tries to compete with the suburbs, the City will lose.

I, for one, am proud that my birth certificate reads, "County of Birth: St. Louis City"!!!

Adam said...

^ i thought the city originally split from the county because, at the time, the county was more of a retreat for the wealthy and so the city didn't want to waste money financing infrastructure there.

Chris said...

The county was flat out poor.

Doug Duckworth said...

This won't change much. Slay will still cater to companies that threaten to leave like TC and the County will still fight amongst themselves unless we have municipal consolidation. They already shot that down. Slay's trying to sound "progressive" for the next election.

Doug Duckworth said...

Let Slay merge the City with Clayton, U-City, Wellston, Bellefountaine, etc. Have people give up a few public offices. That's different.

Matt M. said...

Doug--

I've always thought of how cool it would be if the several inner ring suburbs agreed to be part of the city.

St. Louis City - 355,000
plus
University City - 37,000
Clayton -- 13,000
Maplewood -- 9,000
Richmond Heights -- 9,500
Shrewsbury -- 6,500
Wellston -- 2,000
Hillsdale -- 1,500
Pine Lawn -- 4,000
Jennings -- 15,500
Riverview -- 3,000
Bellefontaine Neighbors -- 11,000

That basically rounds up the bordering municipalities.

That total would be:

467,000.

Viola--larger than KC. And still all urban, for the most part.

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