REARDON: 'I’m Skeptical, But Love Parts of the 'Better Together' Plan

Out of respect for the off-the-record briefing I can’t offer specifics, but I can say there’s a lot in this plan that I love. A lot.

Mark Reardon
January 11, 2019 - 12:14 pm
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Some people have already started calling it the “nuclear option.” The plan by "Better Together" to merge St. Louis City and St. Louis County into one entity with a statewide vote that would change the Missouri constitution and leave our region forever changed. 

Related: County Councilman Believes Most Are Against St. Louis City, County Merger

Why should people from Poplar Bluff, Sedalia and St. Joseph have a say in what happens with the framework of government that we have in place in St. Louis? That’s a pretty basic question—and one Better Together will have to answer to get enough support to plan to pass a ballot issue targeted for November of 2020. 

Or would they?

That’s one of the main sticking points of the reaction so far to the leaked details of the plan. It’s not only possible, but maybe even probable if enough signatures are gathered to place the issue on the ballot that a majority of statewide voters say "YES," but voters directly affected by the radical change in St. Louis City and County could vote "no." That’s why some folks, including a regular on my Friday "Reardon Roundtable" former State Senator John Lamping, have started referring to it as a "coup."

Better Together, the group that has been studying the merger issue for years, will roll out details of the plan thinks they can convince people otherwise will on Jan. 25th. I had a chance this past week to undergo my merger indoctrination and I was left with mixed feelings.

Related: St. Louis County Police Working on Merger Plan of Their Own

Out of respect for the off-the-record briefing I can’t offer specifics, but I can say there’s a lot in this plan that I love. A lot.

First off, getting rid of the ridiculous number of police departments and municipalities. And consolidating services that are duplicated many times over, wasting tax payer dollars is a no-brainer in my book, even though a lot of people won’t like it.

It might very well be the last chance the St. Louis region has for long-term survival and success. Then again, the devil might be in the details.

The bottom line right now is that we really don’t know. So I’m going to take a wait-and-see approach. Better Together has indicated that they want this to be an open and transparent process and that officials/business leaders who support the plan will be active in the upcoming 19-month debate. 

Related: REARDON: PC Police Need to Lighten Up

One of the dumbest comments I’ve heard from people so far is, "If this thing passes I’m moving to Jefferson County or St. Charles County."

Please shut up. Please. You have ZERO idea at this point how this will ultimately affect you personally. What if in the end your property taxes go down? I’m not saying they will because I’m not certain, but what if they do? What if the earnings tax in the City goes away? It would under this plan. 

What if St. Louis County voters aren’t on the hook for any of the city’s debt? In theory under this plan they won’t be and that includes pension debt.

I’m skeptical. And I don’t like the coup aspect of the plan. Are there other options outside of the "nuclear option?" 

We’ll find out soon enough.