St. Louis: Admit it, you're jelly.
St. Louis, admit it, you’re jelly.

Rejoice, River City residents! You live in an area that is provably more fiscally responsible than either St. Louis or Indianapolis.

This information is not the product of local horn-blowing, but rather was brought to the fore by the St. Louis group called Better Together.

Better Together is a grassroots project born in response to growing public interest in addressing the fragmented nature of local government throughout St. Louis City and County.

This fragmentation dates back to 1876, when St. Louis City broke away from St. Louis County. Louisville, by contrast, unified its city and county governments in 2003, and Indianapolis did so in 1970. Apparently this unification helped make living here a better deal.

Better Together’s data shows that the St. Louis city-county divide has ended up jacking the governmental per-capita spending in St. Louis County to $1,918.93. Indianapolis came in at a thriftier $1,328.40. Louisville, however, was thriftiest of all, at $1,103.51, or $815.42 less per-capita than the home of Budweiser.

These conclusions provided some wonderful schadenfreude as I read the rending of garments and caterwauling from the Better Together execs who commissioned this study.

George Herbert “Bert” Walker III, chairman of Better Together, says the figures show that even when counted conservatively, it’s clear the St. Louis region has at least $750 million in excess spending every year.

“The thought of overspending by $750 million a year is unconscionable, particularly when you think about the lost-opportunity cost,” added Better Together Executive Director Nancy Rice. “What could we be doing with this money?”

She had some ideas: Funding St. Louis’s startup community with a best-in-class fiber network, massive school funding, fully funding marquee parklands, and the like.

Yup, because that’s what we’ve done with all those sweet non-wasted greenbacks rolling in. Wait, what?

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David Serchuk
David Serchuk is a staff writer at Insider Louisville. He is a former editor at Forbes.com, and an ex-reporter at Forbes magazine. He's written for NPR, CNBC.com, New York, Pittsburgh, Louisville and other publications named for places. He enjoys writing about business, music and other things as well.

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