Two groups in a conversation about a city-county merger in St. Louis began sparring on Monday in a verbal battle that is expected to intensify in the coming year.
A coalition of anti-merger municipalities, CitiesStrong, contends that Better Together – financed in part by the Rex Sinquefield-backed Missouri Council for a Better Economy – represents another cudgel wielded by the millionaire financier to impose his will on state and regional government. The coalition also publicly questioned a 2014 Better Together study that compared the St. Louis region unfavorably to the unified city-county governance in Indianapolis.
The pro-merger group Better Together counters that the St. Louis County Municipal League is funding CitiesStrong to protect its own interests along with with those of elected and appointed officials in 90 communities across the county. Citing side-by-side data from its study, the group argued that the annual cost of municipal services to residents of St. Louis and St. Louis County is $600 higher than paid by residents in Indianapolis.