Now, This Is Local Government to Get Excited About!
For people who write about local government for think tank blogs, the separation of St. Louis County and city is a tremendously interesting issue. Mayor Francis Slay broached the subject in his inaugural address yesterday, and Combest has rounded up the coverage in the Beacon and the ACC. The most important thing is to keep the question focused on whether the city should re-enter the county as the 92nd municipality. Ideas such as a Nashville-like grand merger of city and county into a unigov are unnecessary and impossible, whereas a simple re-entry is more feasible and would have plenty of positive effects.
I commend Mayor Slay for bringing this issue up again. As I said in my recent study of Missouri government, I think it would be very beneficial for our area if this occurred. The primary effect it would have on county residents would be a tax cut — nothing more and nothing less. The move would temporarily increase taxes on city taxpayers, which should eventually be offset (largely) by overall scale efficiencies and cuts in the city tax rate as the county takes over certain services. The real benefit would be in good government and long-term finances, as significant numbers of patronage jobs in the city’s various “county” offices would be merged into civil-service positions with the county, or eliminated entirely. Patronage benefits political parties, not citizens — and, yes, I already did commend City Treasurer Larry Williams for his cost-cutting moves of a few weeks ago.
Much more on this to come in the future.