Proposal to Cut Size of St. Louis Board of Aldermen
ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–The Board of Aldermen would be reduced in size from 28 members to 12 by the year 2020, under a plan introduced by Alderwoman Phyllis Young.
Sure to make a splash in what’s been called “the most deliberative body in the history of mankind,” Young’s bill asks aldermen to put the issue before city voters on the November ballot. It would require a 60-percent majority from voters to change the city charter.
“It’s something that’s been discussed in the corridors, and anytime anything comes up where we’re cutting somebody else,” Young said, “they always say, well, why don’t you cut the board of aldermen?”
Young says she originated the bill on her own initiative without any collaboration from the mayor’s office. It was drafted for her by aldermanic counsel Dave Sweeney, Young said.
When asked about the objection that fewer aldermen might weaken the legislative check-and-balance over the executive branch, Young disagrees.
“I guess I don’t buy into that argument,” Young said, “I would think that having a smaller body would mean the mayor would have to engage with the aldermen more completely, rather than being able to play them off one against another.”
Young expects some pushback on how the cuts would be made fairly along racial lines. Of the ten co-sponsors she says she has, (Conway, Wessels, Howard, Florida, Baringer, Roddy, Ogilvie , Cohn, Krewson and Davis) only one (Davis) is African American.
Debate is also expected on whether the plan would actually save the city money. Alderman currently make about $38,000 a year. The plan would cut 16 aldermen.
Young says some aldermen will likely contend they are busy enough now representing their wards without picking up thousands of more constituents.
The city’s current population is about 315,000. The city had 28 aldermen when its population was 800,000.