State-wide vote could revoke local control and decide existence of St. Louis-area municipalities

Updated: Mar 22, 2019

On January 28, 2019, Better Together, a project of private nonprofit group Missouri Council for a Better Economy, released their much-anticipated St. Louis City-County Unification report, recommendations, and proposed constitutional amendment. Although the Missouri Constitution currently provides a mechanism for the unification of St. Louis City and County, which gives the power of consolidation to the “people of the city of St. Louis and the people of the county of St. Louis,” Better Together has proposed to revoke this local control and authorize a state-wide vote on the issue. The Better Together amendment, if passed, would merge the current St. Louis City and County into a newly created governing entity called a “Metropolitan City” with broad governing powers for the entire region. The 88 Cities in St. Louis County would initially continue to exist as much more limited “municipal districts.” However, the Metropolitan City would have the authority to formally dissolve them after the transition period. If they are not dissolved (or until they are) the municipal districts would only be able to exercise limited powers such as the administration of parks and recreation services, trash and recycling, and fire protection. Most other services typically provided by municipalities would be administered by the Metropolitan City. Ordinances of the municipalities would remain effective within each respective area of the former municipalities, but the Metropolitan City would have power to modify or repeal these ordinances in the future. Better Together has already filed an initiative for the proposed amendment with the Missouri Secretary of State. If the initiative petition is approved, Better Together can begin collecting signatures across the state to get the issue on the statewide ballot for the November 2020 election. The full text of the amendment can be found here.

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