The potential Saint Louis City-County merger is once again a local hot topic. In light of the renewed interest, I decided to share my working notes regarding the merger. These notes are focused on published research in the fields of economics and political science. They are not complete, but I will update this post when I update the notes.
The bottom line to the merger question is, as always, “it depends.”
Evidence on the benefits of local government mergers is weak – some mergers seem to slightly improve outcomes, others seem to make things slightly worse. The only clear result, as I see it, is that small general-purpose local governments do not normally serve the public well and should only be used in rural areas when there are not other realistic options.Translating the collection of evidence to the Saint Louis area issues leads me to believe many communities within Saint Louis County would benefit from mergers of police and court services. The elimination of local municipalities is not necessary; although, some municipalities may want to consider merging with neighboring municipalities for potential cost savings. A full merger between the county and city will not provide overall benefits to the Saint Louis region.