City reentry into the County

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Hardly anyone talks about how, mechanically, a city-county merger would work.
It would work according to the terms of Missouri statutes 47.310.

"47.310. 1. The question of dividing any county or of striking from any county any portion thereof, whether for the purpose of forming a new county or of adding to any other county, or of adding thereto any portion of any other county, may, by the order of the county commission of any county to be affected, made on the petition therefor of not less than one hundred voters of such county, duly entered of record, and setting out fully the proposed change, the reason and object thereof, and the boundaries of such county if the change were made, be submitted to a vote of the people of the county, being the voters thereof, at the next general election after the making of such order."
What helps the process is that, by 47.320, all remaining county office indebtedness for the City of St Louis would be paid exclusively by the City of St Louis.

So, you have two choices. A petition of 100 County residents to the County Council and voted on only by St Louis County residents, or a petition of 100 City residents to the Board of Aldermen and voted on only by St Louis City residents. (Or, in theory, both at the same time.)
Either way, it only takes a petition of 100 to start the ball rolling.
Quality research there; as this is on many minds, knowing the mechanics is essential.

Meanwhile, I would strongly and adamantly advise anyone who is considering this to first have validating supporters behind you. This will have to include politicians of general upstanding willing to stand by this. I would also recommend retaining the support of significant public figures, such as museum directors, university presidents, and champions of industry.
^^When referring to the situation as a 'merger', do you really mean an absorption of the City into the County? Some, such as Bill Corrigan, make it sound as if the City would be merging into the County as a 50/50 partner, when in fact, the City would be another independent muni, within the County. STL City may be the largest Muni if it happens, but I do not think the idea being floated around as a true possibility, would be defined as a merger.
I think the city should just "re enter" the county. The county has ZERO obligation to pay for all the ridiculous pensions of the city. City Hall should be slashed by 90%. what is the pay roll of 28 alderman and their support staffs? fire all of them. Have a strong mayor system. The airport should be relinquished from city control and handled to a city/county commission. The city should adopt texas' business policy's. we could sit back and watch all the businesses flock to the city.
I'm also in favor of Amendment A. It almost shocks the city into acting. On the flip side, even without an earnings tax, people might come up with other excuses as to why the wouldn't locate in the city.
JCity wrote:
On the flip side, even without an earnings tax, people might come up with other excuses as to why the wouldn't locate in the city.


Most surely they would. Especially if they'll be paying twice as much in property taxes as they do now, and 15% sales tax every time they eat lunch.
Unless the city can seriously cut expenses, that money's got to come from somewhere. And while eliminating the City's "County" offices would help, I'm not sure how a "city-join-the-county-as-92nd-municipality" accomplishes all the other savings you envision.

And the airport, while, yes, owned by the city, is already run by a regional commission.
The can't really cut expenses - not really. Here and there, sure, but not in a way that creates a healthier, more vibrant city. What's clear is that more revenue is needed. And yes, the excuses to not locate in the city seem inexhaustible in St. Louis. It's crime and schools and the earnings tax and the commute and the homeless... I've honestly had people say to me that when the schools and crime are "fixed" they would consider moving into the city. I consider that to be an ignorant demand.
Yes, I am specifically talking about admitting the city to the county as a 92nd municipality. Or rather, removing the territory that is the City of St Louis from independent status and attaching it to St Louis County.
There are some oddities here too. Nothing says that whole cities must be attached or detached. In theory, a single neighborhood could petition (though I doubt the aldermen would accept such a petition); or County residents could petition to admit a single neighborhood.
For the idea of truly merging the city and county, that is virtually impossible. The City would have to remove its own annexation limits and rejoin the County completely first; otherwise it could not make an annexation petition to the County. Then, it could only annex adjacent unincorporated county, basically South County which would likely incorporate first to prevent annexation. Nothing else could be merged into the City without dis-incorporating first.
So, that sort of "merging" would require the City entering the County as a municipality as a prerequisite and still would be unlikely (well, impossible to merge the whole County and the City).
In a strange way, I like that St. Louis City is independent. It's unique and quirky. So the thought of reentering the county as a muni lacks panache. I'd prefer to stay independent or go full merger.

What I'd like to see is a reduction of cities in the County to about 11. All unincorporated areas become munis (South County.) Then have a 12 member round table on key issues—development, education, transportation, safety services.

(Ha!! Just realized I'm probably backing into the old borough concept!)
The crux is revenues. StL City is currently overburdened based upon the amount of monies coming into the tax coffers. Between human services (schools, police, etc) and maintenance of infrastructure (from paving the roads to rainwater sewers), they have a considerable burden to overcome.

Fixing this is done by attracting revenue-producing businesses, especially publicly-traded professional companies into the Downtown area. However, it is incredibly hard for a CEO to sell his company on moving into Downtown based strictly upon the consideration that 1% of revenues would be lost immediately in taxes. Especially if they consider how nearby Clayton has comparable faciliteis without an earnings tax, let alone the other municipalities (Chesterfield & the 64/40 west county drive, etc). This is even assuming they'll go StL before going someplace else entirely.

Merger of StL City into StL County (92nd muni example) would cut down on redundancy in services, increase policing power, and allow the region to act regionally in everything from branding & positioning to simply effecting policy. It also would provide a better means to reduce or eliminate the earnings tax than all other options provided.

OT Inspiration - This idea just hit me - I bet you all that one of the Proposition A foundations is built right into this: COMPELLING MERGER. It's not strictly eliminate a tax to attract businesses or commit to a philosophical idea on government & taxation, but an action that will force us to reorganize in order to act as a region. If Prop A passes, could that in fact be the final push towards full integration of City and County, based upon an increased need for revenue sharing between City and County?

Holy crap, that's probably the quid pro quo of the whole damn thing! He really is acting to his chess roots, because this is the most logical political move when thinking four steps ahead!
^I've heard that position taken up by people who are generally anti-city who oppose Prop A on the basis that it will force the county to "bail the city out". It creates an interesting dynamic about voters who (and allow me some slack on the stereotypes here) are mostly anti-tax, conservative, suburban/rural, and don't particularly care for the city. Yet, the 1% earnings tax they (might) pay protect the status quo which, in a way, keep the city's problems in the city.

I've heard a form of this argument from only a couple of people so I doubt most voters have really thought about it from this perspective, and I suspect many would dismiss it. But it is food for thought.
^I don't understand why the county would be more pro-merger if Prop A passes. I can see why the city might be even more strongly in favor since a huge chunk of its operating revenue will disappear, but the city isn't the entity holding up a merger, right? Most city pols seem pretty pro-merger, as are most city residents I know. And if the city is in even worse financial shape after Prop A, wouldn't that make the county even more reluctant, since the major county objection is fear of being "weighed down" by a cash-strapped city? In other words, Prop A may force St. Louis City to act, but nothing really changes in St. Louis County, as far I know. Their revenue streams aren't affected. Perhaps the idea that a strong city is necessary for a strong county will prompt some in the county to lean in favor of a merger, but I'm not optimistic.

I just don't buy that Prop A is a Trojan horse for city-county merger. I think Rex genuinely believes that with the earnings tax gone, the city will attract more businesses and come up with some way to balance the budget that won't be a net loss for the city (eg, reduced services or sky-high property or sales taxes). I don't see how that will possibly work, but since Prop A seems likely to pass it's first hurdle, we may get a chance to see.

If the merger were his ultimate goal, it would seem much more logical to do things in the opposite order--promote merger first, stabilize finances, then get rid of the earnings tax. I realize that tax repeal is lower-hanging fruit than political merger, but it would actually help rather than destabilize a still-fragile city with trouble making ends meet.
Don't forget that Prop A is one of two votes. The second vote, if Prop A passes, is by city residents only who actually get to choose on whether to keep the earnings tax or not. And having to do it again in fives years (okay, possibility of multiple votes).

My question Gone Corporate, what is the next move in the chess game?

My bias opinion favors dropping the Earnings tax as itcreates some equality among local competing factons on business development, it has only benefitted those local companies who have played it well for tax breaks. City becomes 92 muni in the county. Shadrach, I don't see how having two seperate administrations providing mostly health and welfare services is beneficial. City still remains its identity. Finally, a joint county city ownership of Lamber at a minimum. The region needs the China Air Hub to happen in a big way.
It's a stretch and really a pie in the sky kind of thing but I have heard from people that the county will have to "bail the city out" in order to maintain some semblence of structure if the earnings tax is abolished.

While I oppose Prop A, I don't see that happenening as a result. But honestly, I don't know what would happen. I do know that the city has 5 years to come up with alternatives. Is there any sort of precendent for this?

I don't think higher sales or property taxes creates growth. But I do think having more people and more businesses would generate revenue that could replace the earnings tax, at least somewhat. But are these people/businesses going to move to a city that will soon lose a third of its revenue and is scrambling to come up with a way to replace it?

These are the kinds of things the backers of Prop A need to be talking about, and they better be talking about it if they expect city voters to back this measure. The whole "Let the voters decide" campaign is very disingenuous.
I wonder how the Country residents paying City earnings tax will play out in the St. Louis City vote. I mean, a good part of the City's revenue comes from those working, but not living, in the City. Are City residents going say, that's OK, we don't want your money?
That's what I mean. If Sinquefield wants to get city residents on board with this then he needs to convince them that this will benefit them and the city. Right now the campaign is all about "Let the voters decide". Is that what he's going to tell city voters to get them to vote for it? If so then he will get a sound answer in April that says "not no, but hell no". Even the city's traditional conservative base, the police and firefighters, have their unions out against this. They will be even more fervent about it in April.

Sinquefield is a smart guy and he's put a lot of money into this so I know he has to have a strategy for April in the likely event Prop A passes. I really want to know what he's going to tell city residents to convince them that the city government, already tightening its belt, doesn't need a third of its budget. My money is on "So many businesses will be flocking here that we won't need it anymore!" Yeah right.
And not to beat a dead horse, but he's going to have to convince City residents that they don't want County residents to be paying a good portion of the City bill - so to speak. All other things remaining constant, taxes will go up in the City and down in the County as a result.
What bothers me most is the one-way ratchet effect of Prop A. If it passes in November, but city residents vote it down in the next stage, it's not over, it just comes up for another vote in 5 years. Sooner or later, it passes (unless someone gets enough vote for a counter-referendum...). Hopefully it's staved off long enough for the city to become more stable and find creative revenue streams.

Alex Ihnen wrote:
but he's going to have to convince City residents that they don't want County residents to be paying a good portion of the City bill

I think many people see "tax repeal" and don't think too much more about it, especially those who think the city budget is mostly waste already (I'm not denying that there are cuts that can be made, I'm just skeptical of how much money can really be saved, and I seriously doubt it's anywhere near 30%). On the other hand, the Metro funding tax passed handily so maybe I'm being too pessimistic about the region's voters.
According to polling, it seems that Prop A will pass. This is likely all that Rex cares about in the near term. As rbeedee mentions, it will require a vote every five years to keep the tax intact and will create pressure on the city to look for alternate funding. Obviously the city will not vote for it in the near term, but it's possible it could pass within 25 years or so.

I don't think Prop A helps or hurts some kind of city/county merger as much as some people think. Any kind of merger would likely start with small steps.
What I find most fascinating in this whole issue is how it is playing out politically. In the County, ads have run by the group to elect Corrigan focusing on the merger issue, pinning the GOP candidate against the merger, and painting DEM Exec Dooley as being in favor of the merger. Meanwhile, Rex has been supporting merger and multiple candidates, both sides of the aisle, and including limited merger proponents. While the GOP individual base in the County is being handed quasi-isolationist info, the region's most publicized GOP supporter is backing merger advocacy on a pro-business angle. Academically, it's quite incredible.

Assuming Prop A passes, the key will be seeing how the Spring vote is sold. That'll be where we really see what's going on here.
Gone Corporate wrote:
What I find most fascinating in this whole issue is how it is playing out politically. In the County, ads have run by the group to elect Corrigan focusing on the merger issue, pinning the GOP candidate against the merger, and painting DEM Exec Dooley as being in favor of the merger. Meanwhile, Rex has been supporting merger and multiple candidates, both sides of the aisle, and including limited merger proponents. While the GOP individual base in the County is being handed quasi-isolationist info, the region's most publicized GOP supporter is backing merger advocacy on a pro-business angle. Academically, it's quite incredible.

Assuming Prop A passes, the key will be seeing how the Spring vote is sold. That'll be where we really see what's going on here.


Is Rex actively supporting a merger? I've not heard that. Sure, he's donating to Slay and Dooley, but that could be for any number of reasons.

I've heard some speculating that, via Prop A, Sinquefeld is hoping to force a merger by forcing a revenue crisis for the city. That seems reckless, but, who knows. I still see nothing in that scenario that would make a merger attractive to the average County voter. If anything, whoever predicted a "wave of annexation" in south county raised a good point. Might all this just lead to ever more local government?

I agree, though, we'll know more in the spring, when whatever agreement that Slay and Sinquefeld have worked out should be more apparent.
I think Prop A still has a lot of bizarre twists to it. Remember that the April vote is not automatic. It has to be put on the ballot, and Prop A expressly says that it grants no authority to the City of St Louis to put the vote on the ballot, only that it is required.

Meanwhile, the city charter does not allow the alderman to put exactly that question on the ballot. They could put a very similar question, but Prop A requires exact wording.

So, that means a petition, specifically an initiative. The petition must be submitted between 90 and 150 days before the municipal election. Once submitted, the board of alderman have to hold it for 60 days to force an election, at which point it is certified to go to vote. Too early, and it goes to a special election, too late and it waits for the next election.

I know politics have ways of making such things happen, but hoops can get much smaller when you have a billionaire fighting you.
I am against the merger.
^ What merger? There is no merger being proposed by anyone.
An article from the P-D suggests that City-County "merger" is not on the priority list for Dooley:
The topic that emerged as the hot-button issue late in the campaign for St. Louis County executive is not on Charlie A. Dooley's to-do list when he starts a new, four-year term.

"The city-county merger issue will not be one of my priorities in the next term," Dooley said in an interview Wednesday, the day after the incumbent Democrat fought off a strong challenge from Republican Bill Corrigan.

Link to article
^from the above article

Dooley, 62, said Wednesday that if a merger were to happen, it would have to be at the instigation of county and city residents, rather than politicians.

"It's not a Dooley or a (St. Louis Mayor Francis) Slay thing," he said. "It's got to be what the people want. And apparently, people are not interested in doing it right now."


Can we read any further into this? Is he expecting citizens to take the lead on this issue?