St. Louis Charter Commission to make recommendations

St. Louis Charter Commission to make recommendations

The last public hearing of the St. Louis Charter Commission is Monday 7 pm at Julia Davis Public Library at 4415 Natural Bridge Ave. The meeting will be live streamed by STL TV at

After this commission members will vote to send their recommendations to the Board of Aldermen who may put them on the ballot for voters to consider this November. Charter amendments take a 60% approval to pass.

This is about how we want our city government is structured. Much of this structure was set up in a different time for a city with different characteristics. Is it still working for us today? City electeds may support, oppose, or stay silent on these proposals. Keep in mind that they are a apart of the status quo system and thus incentive structures are at play. We, the citizens of St. Louis, should consider seriously these proposals and think about the future of our city.

For example the Board of Estimate and Apportionment – Is it an important check on mayoral power or should we give the mayor the power that most people think they have already?

Or a new Department of Transportation – Most might think the Streets Department designs and lets out contracts for building streets, no that’s the Board of Public Service which few have heard of. Should we have a transportation-focused department that is compelled to take into account more forms of transportation than just driving? BB61 has already been introduced to put it on the ballot.

Should we vote on city elections in November when turnout is higher? Or keep it in April when there aren’t state or federal elections sucking up the oxygen? This wouldn’t move SLPS school board elections, keep in mind.

Commission recommendations include-

• E&A “Heavy” Reform: Abolish the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, eliminate the Office of Comptroller as an elected office and reassign the Comptroller’s responsibilities to a newly created Director of Finance under Mayoral authority, alter the City’s budget process empowering the Board of Aldermen to increase the budget, and newly create an Office of Public Advocate lead by an elected Public Advocate;

• Standalone Public Advocate: Newly create an Office of Public Advocate led by an elected Public Advocate – even if E&A “Heavy” Reform does not advance – that responds to complaints regarding city services and is supported by a legal department with subpoena power that is separate and independent from the City Counselor’s Office;

• Standalone Board of Aldermen Enhanced Budget Authority: Empower the Council with authority to increase budgetary amounts even if E&A “Heavy” Reform does not advance;

• Department of Transportation: Newly create a Department of Transportation;

• Mayoral Appointments: Newly allow the Mayor to directly appoint the Police Chief, Fire Chief, and Personnel Director as well as identify other Mayoral appointments of department heads in Article VIII;

• Revamp City Voting: Change the timing of general municipal elections from April to November of even years and primaries to August, increase the notice requirements, expand permitted publications of election notices, lower the threshold for signatures on initiatives petitions, newly require approval voting for all County offices except the Circuit Attorney, and rename the “Board of Aldermen” to the “City Council[;]”; and

• Modernize Charter Language: Make specific, global changes to Charter language to convert pronouns to titles of offices, update methods of advertisement, remove obsolete language, reflect modern titles of offices and officers, and provide for compensation to be set by ordinance.

20 years ago a slate of charter amendments went down in flames. One of those was to shrink the Board of Aldermen which was approved by voters in 2012 and finally implemented last year. How do you think that has been going? Should we have done it 18 years sooner? There’s a new generation of St. Louisans since. Will we stick with the structure we have or embrace change?


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