ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – “We simply can’t keep doing what we’re doing…the status quo isn’t working.”
With those words Monday night, Washington University Medical School associate dean for diversity and Better Together task force member Dr. Will Ross helped launch the next phase of the on-going campaign to bring together the governments of St. Louis city and county.
He stressed that nothing’s set in stone at this point.
“Perhaps we’d have a borough system,” he suggested. “Or maybe we can just simply have the city come into the county as a separate municipality.”
According to Better Together the current system has become unwieldy, with more than 90 separate muncipalities, 57 police departments, 81 municial courts, and spending that tops $2.3 billion annually.
Bryan Cave law partner Arindam Kar is another of the three Better Together task force members who talked about the shortcomings of the current system during a meeting at the Sheet Metal Workers’ Hall at Chouteau and Jefferson.
“There are systemic impediments that are, again, limiting our citizens’ equitable access to delivery of services,” he said. “We’re dealing with duplicative services, more than one hundred tax increases over the last few years, and quite simply government is not delivering the quality and level of services that we should anticipate.”
For instance, the task force pointed out that the fragmented government structure now in place costs local taxpayers $1,800 per capita, versus $1,200 for a similar level of services offered in Indianapolis, where the city and county governments have joined together.
Task force member Dr. Will Ross used the impending deadline for a decision from Amazon about a second headquarters as an example of the drawbacks inherent in a fragmented government system.
“We’re competing against each other!,” he lamented. “One municipality’s trying to get a new big box store in their region, and it’s not allowing us to think broadly, we’re too provincial. We’ll have difficulty getting an Amazon in St. Louis if we can’t all come together.”
More than 150 people, including St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson, attended the session.
The next one is set for 7 pm Thursday, Oct. 12 at Lodge Des Peres, with another session scheduled for next week.
A full list can be found at http://www.bettertogetherstl.com.