Better Together Refiles Petition to Merge City, County and All 88 Municipalities

By on February 11, 2019

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  Better Together, whose plan to consolidate St. Louis city and St. Louis County has sparked fast and fierce debate in the region, has refiled its statewide petition to merge area governments.

The organization’s campaign, Unite STL, on Monday resubmitted a petition and state constitutional amendment language to the Missouri secretary of state, after pulling the measure on Friday.

The changes in Monday’s amendment, said Better Together attorney Chris Pieper, all clarify technical and legal language: One states that the merged government can’t seize municipalities’ bank accounts. One clarifies that the new “municipal districts” — which would replace St. Louis County municipalities — could still borrow money for some purposes, such as building parks. And another says that St. Louis city still has to pay its debts, even if the city earnings tax slowly disappears.

The withdrawal on Friday and re-submission on Monday represents a two-week delay in the process for Better Together. But Pieper said the secretary of state and other Missouri offices have already started work on the petition, and might be able to make up some of that time.

“We don’t want to have any delay,” said Pieper, a Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch attorney who has worked on the amendment for about a year. “These changes aren’t significant. They don’t change how the secretary of state is going to write a ballot title.”

But Better Together’s move on Monday irritated critics, some who hoped the group might consider a pause to gather community input.

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