There hasn’t been a great deal of publicity about it, but there is another movement afoot for St. Louis city to merge with St. Louis County. The Wall Street Journal in its Nov. 4-5, issue devoted about a half page (A3) to “Rethinking the ‘Great Divorce’,” a division that occurred in 1876.
This issue springs up every couple of years. Usually, it’s been dead on arrival. If we were a betting person, we would give it less than a 50-50 chance, based on the past history of such a plan. There’s merit in discussing it if for no other reason than it would give residents of both entities information about what could happen with a merger, which would create a city of more than 1.3 million.
The Journal said the plan is being promoted by a group of business leaders with bipartisan political backing. St. Louis County has 89 municipalities, with 57 police departments, 43 fire districts and 81 courts.
The group for it believes the way things are now, in regard to economic growth, investors are turned away and it has created wasteful government, with uneven services to residents. The Journal said it is unclear whether a consolidation would mean the dissolution of all of the municipalities in the county. Those cities cherish the local controls they have, such as zoning and fire departments.
Better Together is the group that has been working on consolidation and it has about $2 million toward the study and campaign. It’s been working on the plan for several years.
There are success stories of mergers such as what is proposed for St. Louis city and County. One of them is Kansas City, Kan.
St. Louis needs something to quicken its sluggish stride, and to give it appeal for an economic sprint. As a county next door to St. Louis County and city, what happens there is vital to the well-being of Franklin County. Name the people who could give St. Louis the leadership it needs to push it forward. Can’t think of anybody? Leadership is there, it’s just dormant!
The merger of St. Louis city and County isn’t the total answer. But it might be a start.