City of St. Louis - Independent Special Districts

An inside look explaining the  structure of St. Louis City government and how it works with Independent Special Districts.


The governmental structure of the City of St. Louis is unusual in the United States. Since 1876, St. Louis has been an independent city, meaning it is not part of any county. St. Louis operates additional Independent Special Districts, which are listed below.

Independent Special Districts

  • St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) provide preschool through grade twelve public education services within the boundaries of the City of St. Louis. However, SLPS is, like any other school district in Missouri, an entity independent of any municipal government.
  • Special Administration Board of Education Currently, the St. Louis Public Schools District is under the governance of a three-member Special Administrative Board (SAB).  One member is appointed by the Governor, one by the Mayor of St. Louis and one by the President of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. SLPS is primarily funded through its property tax levy, as well as Federal, state and desegregation sales tax funds.
  • St. Louis Public Library (SLPL) operates 16 libraries throughout the City of St. Louis. It is not part of the city government, but its nine-member Board of Directors[] is appointed by the Mayor for staggered three-year terms. SLPL is funded through a special property tax levy.
  • City of St. Louis Mental Health Board is a special taxing district that finances mental health and substance abuse treatment services in the City of St. Louis. It is not part of the city government, but is managed by an eleven-member board of commissioners appointed by the Mayor.
  • St. Louis Office for Developmental Disability Resources is a public agency whose responsibility is to distribute City tax dollars for services for individuals with developmental disabilities. The office is funded through a special property tax allocation, listed on tax bills as "Sheltered Workshop."

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