City of St. Louis Opens Application Portal for Charter Commission to Review City’s Founding Document

The commission will empower St. Louisans to modernize and streamline city government in a transparent, citizen-driven way.

April 17, 2023 | 2 min reading time

Today, the City of St. Louis opened the application portal for the new St. Louis Charter Commission. The commission will empower St. Louisans to modernize and streamline city government in a transparent, citizen-driven way.

“Our city charter was drafted in the horse-and-buggy era before women even had the right to vote,” said Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “It’s time we take a hard look at what worked in the 20th century but doesn’t in the 21st. I’m ready to work alongside the commission to make city government more efficient, more responsive, and more inclusive for generations to come.”

Mayor Tishaura O. Jones signed BB44 placing Proposition C on the April 4, 2023 general municipal election ballot following its overwhelming approval by the Board of Aldermen. Passed with the 60 percent necessary at the ballot box, the charter commission is yet another way Mayor Jones is working to modernize city government as she did in the Treasurer’s Office.

“A regular review guarantees that our charter remains relevant as times change,” said Board of Aldermen President Megan Green. “Moreover, I think centering residents in the process goes a long way toward building a stronger working relationship between the public and their local government.”

Among some of the antiquated portions of the St. Louis City Charter:

  • Requirement to print city updates in only English and German
  • Grants city right to levy taxes on steamboat lines, steamships, and merry-go-rounds
  • Allows city to issue bonds for the construction and maintenance of “orphan asylums,” “insane asylums,” as well as “telephone and telegraph systems”
  • Referring to all elected officials as men, outdated for an era in which the top city elected officials are women 

“I'm incredibly proud of St. Louis voters for saying yes to this opportunity for community-engaged, repeating work on our charter,” said Ald. Annie Rice (8). “Passing was step one, now comes the request for folks to get involved - either by applying to serve on the commission or getting ready with ideas and suggestions for changes that will help move our city forward. This process will only be as good as we make it, and I'm grateful we've added this tool to St. Louis's governmental toolbox!”

Per the measure, the application portal will remain open until June 6, 2023 50 days after posting per the proposition. Applicants must be a registered voter in the City of St. Louis for at least two consecutive years, and they must be free of conflicts of interest, meaning an applicant, or their first-degree relative, cannot have been a lobbyist representing clients with interests in front of City government or has financial or service contracts with the City. Each member of the Board will ultimately be confirmed by the Board of Aldermen. The commission will become active on August 15, 2023 with its first public meeting held on September 10.

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