In the St. Louis area, governmental authority and power is not concentrated in any single entity or official. The central City as a smaller tax base than comparable metropolitan jurisdictions. Consequently, major initiatives with regional implications can be accomplished only through coalitions with political leadership outside the city. However, many of the region's public facilities along with other various attractions are located within the city limits bestowing a certain responsibility among St. Louis
To become an Alderman one must be a registered voter and at least twenty-five years of age. Before their respective elections he or she must have been a United States citizen for at least five years, three years a resident of the city and one year a resident of the ward from which elected. The Board of Aldermen are their own judge with regard to qualifications except the President. The President must be at least thirty years of age and a city resident for a least five years.
Aldermen today receive an annual salary of approximately $37,000. All receive the same pay regardless of seniority or duty. Increases in compensation is based on a percentage equal to the average increases recommended by the Civil Service Commission. The President's salary is approximately $80,000. In addition to their salary each Alderman is allowed a taxable $4,200 expense fund. The Aldermen can use this money at their discretion but they are required to report to the Clerk of the Board of Aldermen whereby determining the legitimate business in which the money is allowed.
The Structure of the Board of Aldermen
Within the 28 members there are four officers. The President, Vice-president, Majority Floor Leader and Assistant Majority Floor Leader. The President is elected city wide and the remaining three are determined by seniority.
The President presides at all the meeting, preserves decorum and determines all questions of order. He or she also appoints standing and special committees and serves as an equal member of all committees. The President assigns bills to appropriate committees and refers bills, when ready, to the Engrossment Committee. the President directs action from the broad elevated podium in the front and center of the semi-circular chamber.
The Vice-president performs all the duties of the President when he or she is absent.
The Majority Floor Leader handles all Aldermanic administrative duties on the floor. He or she moves to: defer the approval of the minutes until printed, approve minutes when printed in the Journal of the Board of Aldermen, excuse Aldermen, adjourn to a certain date and carry out miscellaneous duties assigned by the President. In the absence of the Vice-president he or she assumes the role.
The Assistant Majority Floor Leader performs all the duties of the Majority Floor Leader when he or she is absent.
The Clerk of the Board of Aldermen perform all duties necessary to the functioning of the Board. The Clerk is the official repository of all reports and records of the Board of Aldermen and his or her duties are almost limitless. His or her duties include the maintenance of records of all the proceedings. During the Board meetings, the Clerk is positioned just below the President and is responsible for voting procedures.
The Sergeant-at-Arms attends all meeting and takes care of the chambers as proscribed by the Aldermen.
Order of Business
At the time designated to begin the Clerk will call the roll. When it is determined that a quorum of fifteen or more is present the President will then give a suggested prayer. Next, Aldermen recognize honored guests in the chamber. The order of business is structured in about twenty-three steps. In this time debates can be long and thorough and sometimes heated. The process of debate is preserved in the rules which provide time for healthy discussion on all sides of a given issue.
Legislation Into Law
Legislation is introduced by Aldermen in the form of bills. The mayor may introduce bills or cause them to be introduced by requesting the chairmen of specific committees to sponsor such a bill. Bills are read before the entire Board upon introduction. After the first reading the bill is sent to specific standing committee for study and recommendation. The committee, after considering the bill, reports it back to the full Board for a second reading. It may be referred back to committee for some reason or it may be put on the informal calendar. It is possible, however, to suspend the rules so that a Bill may be read for a third time and passed in the same meeting. If the Bill is delayed in committee or elsewhere it eventually will be read a third time being either passed or defeated. Approval by a simple majority of fifteen or more is required for passage except for those dealing with the sale of any of the City's real estate or for the discontinuance or establishment of administrative divisions which require a two-thirds or 20 vote. The Mayor may sign or veto a bill within 10 to 20 days after it is presented to him. If he or she does not take action, the bill automatically becomes law. A two-thirds majority is required to over-ride a mayoral veto. Unless the measure is an emergency it does not take effect until 30 days after the Mayor signs the bill or it is adopted over his veto.
The committees specialize on certain issues and can usually focus on the details of a bill more effectively than the full Board. The committee meetings are usually announced a week ahead of time and are all open to the public. There are 15 standing committees within the Board of Aldermen:
The Conventions, Tourism, Arts & Humanities Committee considers all matters pertaining to the Kiel Auditorium, A.J. Cervantes Convention Center, Regional Cultural and Performing Arts Development Commission, the Convention and Tourism Fund, St. Louis Regional Convention and Visitors Commission, the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority and other related matters.
The Engrossment, Resolution, Rules & Credentials Committee sees that all bills are properly engrossed. They also examine all enrolled bills correcting any errors and report the same with the words, "truly enrolled" endorsed. Their duties also include the examination of certificates of election by newly elected Aldermen. Along with considering qualifications of Aldermen they are responsible for an annual review of the Rules of the Board of Aldermen. This committee is responsible for the enforcement of the Rules adopted by the Board.
The Health and Human Services Committee considers all matters pertaining to the Department of Health and Hospitals and the Department of Welfare. This committee also handles matters pertaining to the Office on Aging.
The Housing, Urban Development & Zoning Committee considers all matters pertaining to housing, urban development and zoning, including the Community Development Agency and Commission, the St. Louis Development Corporation and the appropriation and disbursement of all federal monies administered by said agencies.
The Intergovernmental Affairs Committee is authorized to establish and maintain relationships with all federal, state and local governmental agencies and to evaluate and monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of all programs initiated through the Board of Aldermen or other legislative concerns.
The Legislation Committee considers and reports upon existing and proposed laws and recommends changes when indicated. It examines matters relating to elections, registrations and revisions or ordinances and reports on all bills and measures remaining over from the last session and requiring further consideration. The committee also examines matters of personnel, civil service, the Law Department, Complaint Board, City Courts, Register and duties of the City Marshall with the idea of suggesting improvements. It considers the amount and sufficiency of city bonds and license taxes.
The Neighborhood Development Committee considers blighting and redevelopment plan bills provided that such bills pertain only to vacant, scattered site residential or proposed blighted area where no relocation will be necessary to complete the proposed redevelopment.
The Parks & Environmental Matters Committee considers all issues pertaining to parks, recreation and forestry, as well as, all matters concerning environmental or ecological concerns within the city including the abatement of air, noise and water pollution and problems affecting the preservation of open space.
The Personnel and Administration Committee considers all matters pertaining to the employees of the Board, the various offices of the Board, the Aldermanic Budget, all Aldermanic expenses and disbursements and all other related matters, consistent with these Rules. They establish operating policies for the office staff, to be executed and supervised by the Clerk.
The Public Employees Committee considers matters pertaining to City employment, its terms, conditions, bargaining representatives, if any, as well as the rules, regulations and operations of the Civil Service Commission
The Public Safety Committee considers all matters pertaining to the Department of Public Safety, the Police Department, corrections, excise laws and regulations, the Fire Department, the Division of Building and Inspections and the City Emergency Management Agency.
The Public Utilities Committee considers matters pertaining to the maintenance, equipment, operation, service and assessment of rates and charges of public utilities, whether City owned or franchised.
The Streets, Traffic & Refuse Committee considers all matters pertaining to streets, alleys, sidewalk, traffic and signage, parking and refuse.
The Transportation & Commerce Committee considers all matters pertaining to the transportation and commerce industries, including airports, railroads, wharves, ports, bridges, inter-city/state trucking, state and federal highways, public and mass transit
The Ways & Means Committee is concerned with questions of finance, assessments, budget, public debt; appropriations and other bills not properly referable to other committees except monies administered by the Community Development Agency or the St. Louis Development Corporation.