In the wake of the events in Ferguson, Mo., much of the media coverage focused on the geopolitical fragmentation of the St. Louis area, and the abuses it has engendered. In some circles, it led to talk of government consolidation, or “big box” government, as a possible solution.
St. Louis County has 90 municipalities. (This doesn’t include the city of St. Louis, which is technically an “independent city.”) Believe it or not, with 22,000 residents, Ferguson is one of the biggest. A number of the municipalities have fewer than 1,000 people. This proliferation of small cities has created perverse incentives to bad and abusive governance. But while there may be clear benefits to consolidation, is it really the answer here?