The Des Peres Board of Aldermen Monday unanimously voted to oppose the Better Together proposal which would unite St. Louis City, County and its 88 municipalities.
The Better Together plan calls for a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment that would restructure local governments in the St. Louis region and combine the city and county, which would dissolve the existing municipalities.
A preliminary fiscal analysis done by Des Peres determined that the city, or “Des Peres Municipal District” as it would be called under the Better Together proposal, would have a deficit of nearly $7 million.
This would require either substantial increases in local taxes, property and utility taxes, or substantial reductions in parks and recreation and/or fire and EMS services.
“This proposal would eviscerate the city of Des Peres and the other municipalities,” said Mayor Mark Becker. “The board has spoken with one voice on what we think of the proposal.
“It is not well thought out and it is detrimental to the city of Des Peres and the other municipalities in St. Louis County.”
“The reality is that this is a proposal being driven by an outside group, not from here, who are individuals not affiliated with any government, and they filed with the secretary of state and only they have the ability to withdraw,” City Administrator Doug Harms said. “This resolution sets the stage for what we propose to do in the next 18 months.”
Becker said that the city would hold town halls to educate residents on where the money and services are going, and how bad it is for the city.
“There is an effort from a number of elected officials throughout the county league to circulate a petition calling for the creation of a new board of freeholders to address the issue,” Harms said.
“If board wants to do it, they need to do it or find citizens to do it,” he said. “We’re being paid by taxpayers and we can’t advocate for issues or candidates.”