Saint George: Symptom of a Larger Problem? Or Is It a Smaller Problem?
Traffic ticket hotspot St. George, Missouri, is still on people’s minds after that ugly incident with the police officer last week. Charlie Brennan has been talking about it a lot on KMOX, and today the Post-Dispatch ran an interesting article on the problems small police departments can have. Here’s a key statement of interest to me in the article:
St. Louis County alone has 64 departments among its 91 municipalities. Only Cook County, Ill. has more departments in one county.
Cook County has five times the population of St. Louis County, by the way, and not too many more municipalities (about 130 to 91). By my nature, I am inclined to strongly prefer small government, but at some point it just gets ridiculous — and 91 municipalities and 64 police departments in one county is more than ridiculous. The amount of unnecessary tax money we spend on redundant positions, the amount of bull$&!t tickets written by small police departments to finance city services, the ability of tiny cities to throw a wrench into major transportation projects for the entire area, like Westwood almost did with Conway Road and I-64 … at some point, small government becomes too small.
I admire Jackson County, with its 18 municipalities — including Kansas City. I also like the parts of unincorportated St. Louis County, where over 300,000 people live without a city government and the county does a fine job of providing services at lower tax rates than most nearby municipalities do. I don’t want state mandates to force consolidation, although that would not be terrible. What I want for is the residents of these tiny cities, with their own police forces, to just disincorporate on their own.
Let’s keep the largest 40 or so towns in the county, and even allow them to grow via mergers. At some point, though, we need to have fewer St. Georges and Velda Villages in St. Louis County.