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After decades of contemplation and debate, a group known as Better Together is recommending an end to the “Great Divorce” between St. Louis and St. Louis County.Better Together is proposing an ambitious plan to create a unified metro government and police department and limit municipalities' ability to levy sales taxes. The plan would be decided through a statewide vote.Proponents contend it will scrape away layers of local government that has been holding the St. Louis region back. Opponents believe the plan will create an unwieldy and large centralized government that could be implemented against the will of city and county residents.

Politically Speaking: Can Board Of Freeholders Succeed At Uniting St. Louis And St. Louis County?

A group known as Better Together is proposing a plan to merge St. Louis and St. Louis County. They're planning to get the measure on the 2020 ballot.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The latest edition of Politically Speaking takes a closer look at what’s historically known as the Board of Freeholders, a 19-person body that could present a plan merging St. Louis and St. Louis County to local voters.

Earlier this week, the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis submitted its last batches of signatures in St. Louis and St. Louis County to jumpstart the freeholders process. St. Louis County Board of Elections Democratic Director Eric Fey said the county’s signatures will likely be certified on Monday.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page will appoint 18 out of the 19 members of the board. Gov. Mike Parson picks the final member. The board will have a year to potentially consolidate city and county services. It could also present a plan to somehow combine St. Louis and St. Louis County’s governments. Or, it could offer up nothing.

Here are some highlights of the show:

  • How the Board of Freeholders works — and how Krewson and Page are approaching the process.
  • Why previous boards failed to present a city-county merger plan that gained favor with local voters.
  • A look at some of the potential hurdles for the board, including financial questions about a city-county merger and the continued skepticism of a plan among African American political leaders.
  • What to expect from the latest season of the podcast We Live Here, which will explore what a merger could mean for the city and the county.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow We Live Here on Twitter: @weliveherestl

Music: “Makes Me Wonder” by Maroon 5

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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