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What’s Better? Groups Argue For More And Less St. Louis County Government

Beyond Housing CEO Chris Krehmeyer, left, Normandy Mayor Patrick Green and Cool Valley Mayor Viola Murphy pose for a photo after talking about municipality government with 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Feb. 5, 2015.
Alex Heuer
St. Louis Public Radio

If coalitions can get into schoolyard fights, then they did Thursday afternoon.

For nearly a year, the Better Together coalition has explored whether St. Louis and St. Louis County should consider merging services. Within St. Louis County, some believe there also is a need for consolidation: Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, has introduced a bill that would eliminate some of St. Louis County's smaller municipalities.

Thursday on “St. Louis on the Air,” members of Vision 24:1, a Beyond Housing effort to unite the 24 municipalities that make up the Normandy School District, said calling for small municipalities to be eliminated was not fair.

“Most people came into these communities in the ’30, ’40 and ’50s to start these villages to escape from the city of St. Louis,” Normandy Mayor Patrick Green said. 

Green and Cool Valley Mayor Viola Murphy are part of Vision 24:1. Their cities also are threatened by a Senate bill that, if passed, would cut a municipality's general operating revenue from traffic fines and court fees from 30 percent to 10 percent. Murphy said lowering fines and fees would “be a great problem” for Cool Valley. The 24:1 municipalities already are working together to remain separate but become more efficient, she said. 

“We have looked at everything from salt up to the court system,” she said. "We are better than Better Together.”

Green later repeated that quip, adding: “Better Together could learn some things from us that would make them better.”

Beyond Housing CEO Chris Krehmeyer said the real conversation should be about good government, not the number of municipalities.

“If you can provide good governance for your community and have a court system that is fair and equitable and metes out justice in a proportional way depending on the crime, then we don't think it really matters what percentage of income comes from any source if you are passing this good governance litmus test,” he said. “Are we providing good governance? Isn't that what we really want, versus a number?”

Better Together fired back a few hours later with a series of tweets addressing how municipalities are funded, several with the hashtag #GoodGovernance.

Better Together has been invited to appear on “St. Louis on the Air” next week.

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