By Mike Anthony
The Green Park Board of Aldermen last week adopted a resolution opposing any statewide vote on a merger of St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis.
The resolution also urges the St. Louis County Council and the St. Louis Board of Aldermen “to oppose any and all legislation authorizing a statewide vote or mandating a change in the government structure of St. Louis city and St. Louis County.”
The Board of Aldermen voted 5-0 Oct. 16 to approve the measure. Board President Fred Baras of Ward 3 was absent.
“… Certain legislators and other individuals seek to impose significant and potentially damaging changes to the governmental structure of St. Louis city and St. Louis County, including the municipalities of the county,” the resolution states. “… Such persons believe their scheme would not be favorably received by the voters of the city or the county.”
As such, the resolution states, “Such persons may seek a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment, or some form of legislative mandate, to accomplish their scheme and dilute the votes of or totally bypass the voters of the city and the county …”
Officials and member municipalities of the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis believe all discussions and votes on any proposal to change the structure of local government “should be held only by residents of the city and the county,” according to the resolution.
City Attorney Paul Rost said the Missouri Constitution “has a specific process for the consolidation of the city and the county because this has been talked about numerous, numerous, numerous times ever since the ‘Great Divorce’ way back when. So that process is already in place.”
That process, the city attorney noted, involves the Board of Freeholders.
“… So all the Municipal League and others who are talking about this are saying is there’s already a state process. It’s in the Constitution. And county voters and the city voters, all residents in both, have a say in this, but not the rest of the state — not people in Illinois, not people in Kansas City, not people in Springfield, not people anywhere other than St. Louis County and St. Louis city — and that is the process in the Missouri Constitution,” Rost said.
As the resolution states, he noted, a city-county merger would not be favorably re-ceived by local voters.
“So rather than to have it happen here in the city and the county, they want to move it to statewide, where people who don’t really care one way or the other would vote,” Rost said, adding that a statewide vote “would dilute the power of St. Louis city and county to make this decision themselves.”
This is not the first time the Board of Aldermen has addressed the issue of a city-county merger. In 2014, the board voted unanimously to adopt a resolution opposing “any plan for reunification of the city of St. Louis with St. Louis County.”