Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Overlapping Jurisdictions in St Louis County

Overlapping Jurisdictions in St Louis County

Continuing with the local government balkanization theme...

It's just crazy how many overlapping jurisdictions result in St. Louis County municipalities being divided up into multiple layers of other service providers, particularly fire protection districts and school districts.

For example:

The industrial/office park area south of I-270 and McDonnell Blvd., sometimes called the Brown Campus, is in
The City of Hazelwood, but serviced by
The Robertson Fire Protection District (not the Hazelwood city fire department); and by
The Ferguson-Florissant School District (not the Hazelwood School District).

In this case, much of this industrial area was annexed by Hazelwood in the 1990s, so there was an agreement with the already existing Robertson FPD to not switch over the fire protection; especially since the RFPD is headquartered in the annexation area - albeit in the residential part just north of I-270.

Some other parts of the 1990s Hazelwood annexation areas are served by Florissant Valley Fire Protection District.

The school district boundaries, meanwhile, are a relic of the fact that in 1975, Ferguson-Florissant was required to merge with Berkeley and Kinloch school districts in order to desegregate the three districts. Berkeley had already merged (probably in the late 1950s) with the Scudder School District, the school that served the African-American community called Robertson.

Robertson, now entirely bought out by the city of St. Louis for expansion and noise mitigation for Lambert Airport, was located off North Lindbergh adjacent to the railroad overpass. It is also the namesake for the Robertson FPD. Now, of course, there are no Ferguson-Florissant schools anywhere near this area, as there is basically no population there. Indeed - although the school map does not accurately reflect it - since the Berkeley High School has been renamed McCluer South-Berkeley and moved out of Berkeley entirely to South Florissant Road in January 2004, there is only one school in the entire district located west of I-170: Holman Elementary, on Harold Dr. near Brown Rd. in the far southwestern part of the City of Berkeley. Kinloch, of course, no longer has any schools. There are fewer than 500 residents left there.

Similarly, in the industrial area of Berkeley, north of Boeing and southeast of Ford, the area along Latty Avenue is in the City of Berkeley, served by the Berkeley Fire Department, but in the Hazelwood School District.

And, meanwhile, the section of the City of Ferguson located east of West Florissant Avenue, such as the Canfield Green Apartments is located in the Riverview Gardens School District, not Ferguson-Florissant. Too, the Harneywold subdivision in extreme northeast Ferguson, as well as the Crossings at Halls Ferry shopping center in Ferguson, are in the Hazelwood School District. At least both areas are served by the Ferguson Fire Department.

Most parts of the City of Florissant - which does not have its own fire department - are in the aforementioned Florissant Valley FPD. However, the portions of Florissant city located east of New Halls Ferry Road are in the Black Jack Fire Protection District. On the other hand, large sections of Florissant city - the newer areas, north and west of Coldwater Creek - are in the Hazelwood School District, not Ferguson-Florissant. Further, parts of "unincorporated Florissant" located east of New Halls Ferry Road near Parker Road are in the Ferguson-Florissant schools, Black Jack FPD, and no city at all.

And, finally, there's the City of Dellwood. Centered roughly on the intersection of West Florissant and Chambers, Dellwood is divided into three different school districts: the far north part of Dellwood is in Hazelwood schools; the remaining portion east of West Florissant is in Riverview Gardens schools; and the part west of West Florissant is in Ferguson-Florissant. Further, that far north part is also served by Black Jack FPD; the remainder of Dellwood is in the Metro North Fire Protection District (formerly known as Moline FPD).

Is it any wonder the St. Louis County Tax Rates book is 11 pages long? And I think there used to be a version, even more detailed, closer to 100 pages. When you overlay munis, school districts and fire districts plus library districts, MSD and its various subdistricts, special business districts, and street lighting districts, the system gets quite complex and granular indeed.

Fortunately, in the City of St. Louis we only have one municipality - which runs its own excellent fire department, one school district, one library district, and a handful of special business districts. There might be a few MSD subdistricts, too, but I'm not entirely sure. All the major taxing bodies have very simple, easy-to-understand names: they start with "St. Louis."

1 comment:

PonyMommy said...

In the City, special taxes are collected for the Library Dist, Mental Health Dist, MR/DD Sheltered Workshop Dist and the Assessor presently lists 21 special Biz Dists and Community Improvement Dists. Some folks in St. Louis Hills desire a CID to build a country club.

Regionally, taxes are collected for Metro Parks Dist, Zoo Museum Dist, Regional Arts Commission, Convention & Visitors Commission, Bi-State, and Community Colleges, all constituting special dists or quasi-political subdivisions.

I think most of the MSD subdistricts are gone or are going away thanks to the load of dung sold to voters during the MSD charter reform votes. Now everyone gets to pay for expanding service to new developments. It's my understanding that MSD could expand outside the City and County and we'd get to pay for that as well.

Going back to Illinois, Cook County has 133 munies and somewhere around 140 school dists, 100 fire depts/dists, 100 park dists, 94 library dists. I believe Illinois still holds the record among states for most special taxing districts.