ST. LOUIS – Voters will decide on a proposal in April that could give them a larger say in St. Louis City government.

Mayor Tishaura Jones officially approved a bill Thursday morning for a ballot measure to create a citizen-led commission to review the St. Louis city charter.

A city charter is a document that outlines certain powers, functions and essential procedures of city government. St. Louis first enacted a city charter in 1914.

If approved, the new ballot measure would allow St. Louis City residents to offer suggestions and revisions to the city charter. A commission would review certain recommendations. If a certain charter amendment gains support from the commission, it could appear on future ballots for St. Louis voters.

“Giving St. Louis the opportunity for a City-led, public-engaged, and regular Charter Commission to review our city’s governing document helps our city move forward together,” said Alderwoman Annie Rice, who sponsored the bill over the charter. “There could be small changes, or big ones depending on what we identify together, and this type of engagement with our government will help us all better understand what we’re doing, and why, and how that may need to change.”

“St. Louis’ City Charter was adopted more than a century ago when people communicated by telegraph and traveled by steamboat,” said Jones. “This gives St. Louisans the opportunity to have a voice and vote in modernizing city government for the 21st century.”

Among some of the antiquated language in the St. Louis City Charter:

  • Requirement to print city updates in only English and German
  • City granted right to levy taxes on steamboat lines, steamships, horse shoers, and merry-go-rounds
  • City allowed to issue bonds for the construction and maintenance of “orphan asylums,” “insane asylums,” as well as “telephone and telegraph systems”

The charter also outlines rules for elected officials, special tax bills, eminent domain and more. To review current guidance from an electronic version of the St. Louis city charter, click here.