Municipal Governments Push Back on the Merger Talks
By: Lisa Pannett
Several groups have formed to express push back on the St. Louis City/County Merger. The latest to join the discussion is “The Community Preservation Committee” led by Jack Baumann. A meeting was held on Monday, that included “Better Together” representation, a group that is pushing for a merger. The crowd was overwhelming opposed to not only a merger but big government.
Attendees of the meeting included the Mayor of Chesterfield, Bob Nations and the Mayor of Ellisville, Adam Paul. Mayor Nations expressed in great detail the problems with our current taxation system in St. Louis County. Chesterfield with its abundance of retail, is left with only a small fraction of tax money within Chesterfield to pay for the upkeep of infrastructure. Pool cities, which is what Chesterfield is designated as, has to submit their taxes into a pool that is then divided out based on population. This could be best summed up as wealth redistribution. If the City was to reenter to the County as a pool city is would become the largest recipient of tax dollars.
Mayor Adam Paul and candidate for St. Louis County Council 7th District eloquently explained to the audience that this was nothing but a foregone conclusion. Better Together was collecting data to use to support the conclusion they want-supportive of a merger. Mayor Paul went on to explain the pulse of the people in his district as overwhelmingly opposed to a merger. He said that he spoke to hundreds of people with only 2 expressing a desire for a merger. Tony Pousosa, Republican Candidate for St. Louis County Executive shared that he was the only candidate on either ticket to be openly opposing a City/County Merger. He stated that the people should be able to express their grievances to government and expect local results. This only works when the government representation remains local.
Several in the crowd pressed “Better Together” on details concerning their board members. Better Together admitted that everyone on their board or involved desires some form of merger. The differences come in what type of form they would like to see that take. Jennifer Bird, Candidate for St. Louis County Council District 5, showed how it was nearly impossible to maneuver their data. She questioned how the data was meant to help the people, if the people could not even easily access that data.
The Ballwin City Council led the way in being the first to pass a resolution earlier this month opposing a City/County Merger. Mayor Tim Pogue laid out sound reasoning that Municipal Government should be in opposition of merging. Local governments will be eaten up by one mega uni-gov like Chicago. These big entities are not responsive to the people and knee deep in corruption. Local municipal governments already do a better job on every level compared to St. Louis County: snow removal, fire protection and police protection to mention a few.
With a local billionaire’s money wanting a merger, an endless amount of money will go to a marketing campaign that will illustrate the merger as unicorns and rainbows. The fate of local government lies in the hands of the voters. Will St. Louis County survive an elitists agenda to take away local control?