Krewson, Stenger Open to Using Statewide Vote to Decide on Proposed City-County Merger

By on January 8, 2019

From St. Louis Public Radio:  The top elected officials in St. Louis and St. Louis County agree that a plan to combine the two jurisdictions needs to go to a statewide — and not just local — vote.

It comes as the group that’s been studying the possibility of a city-county merger is expected to roll out its proposal in the coming weeks.

An organization called Better Together has been studying the concept of a city-county union for nearly five years. The St. Louis Business Journal reported that the plan could include city and county residents electing a mayor, assessor and prosecutor — and a 33-person council serving as a legislative branch. Better Together Executive Director Nancy Rice said a task force coming up with a plan “has not yet finalized its report.”

Though the Better Together report has yet to be released, there is already one competing proposal emerging — the merging of the St. Louis Metropolitan and St. Louis County police departments.

Under a proposal from St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, municipal police departments would remain intact. The city and unincorporated parts of St. Louis County would be divided into 17 different precincts, with an emphasis on keeping attractions along the central corridor safe.

The combined department would have about 3,400 officers and a budget of $354 million.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch first reported the existence of the proposal on Thursday. St. Louis Public Radio has since been provided with a copy, though a spokesman for the department emphasized that it was never intended to be made public and “it is very premature for further discussion at this time.”

One lingering question about the Better Together proposal is whether only city and county voters should decide on it, or if the matter should go to a statewide vote.

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