Better Together representative, Will Krueger, spoke at last week’s Richmond Heights Council meeting, listing reasons for a merger and what it would accomplish. The city plans to host a public forum on the proposed merger at next week’s meeting, April 15, 7:30 p.m. at The Heights.
Krueger summarized reasons for a city/county merger: 1) With city and county population dropping as a whole and taxes going up, more is being spent on fewer residents. 2) Court fines — much of it on the poor and black — are propping up many municipalities. 3) There is an 18-year gap in life expectancy between city and county residents. 4) The complicated structure of the many municipalities encourages big box stores to pit cities against each other to compete for the stores.
He said Better Together has collected public feedback, determining what is wanted: 1) a single police force, 2) a unified court system, 3) unified economic development, 4) more efficient governmental spending and 5) to preserve local identities.
He said a merger would create possibilities that now don’t exist for the area: 1) it would build the economy, 2) It would immediately make St. Louis the ninth-largest city in the country. 3) it would take St. Louis off the list of most dangerous places to live, and 4) provide area-wide leadership to solve area problems.
Responding to questions, Krueger said current services in the county — such as street repair and snow plowing — would be the baseline for the entire area in a merger. He said it’s not a stretch to think that all residents in the combined new area could be adequately served.
He said the plan can be found at bettertogetherstl.com