CHESTERFIELD • With most members saying there’s been no clear evidence to support claims of financial or efficiency benefits, the Chesterfield City Council on Monday voted to oppose a merger of the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County.
The vote was 6-1 with only Randy Logan voting against the resolution.
While Logan said he didn’t disagree with some of the concern about unification, he added, “I don’t know what the framework of an agreement would be, and it’s a little shortsighted to approve this resolution” without knowing what the agreement would be.
“I may be in favor if this plan could make the county stronger and deliver government at a lower cost,” Logan said.
But other council members expressed various financial and governance concerns if St. Louis were to become the 91st municipality in St. Louis County. During a committee meeting last month, some officials said they’d attended a recent Municipal League of Metro St. Louis meeting where the agenda included an item recommending inclusion of St. Louis within St. Louis County, and a vote to open discussions with the city regarding the matter passed overwhelmingly.
“Why wait for a plan? I don’t want to see a plan for a bad idea and a bad concept, and I don’t think there should be a merger,” Councilwoman Barb McGuinness said.
Better Together, a pro-consolidation group, responded Tuesday to the comment by McGuinness, posting on its Facebook page: “This kind of thinking is not helpful.”
Councilman Barry Flachsbart contended a proposed argument for the merger — “to make St. Louis’ crime statistics look better, spread over a larger area” — was not an appropriate reason since those city statistics wouldn’t change.
“Another argument in favor would be to provide for more efficient government, but the plan is to take, for example, the highest-priced police and fire department salaries and make sure all employees got that level of pay — some communities’ departments are not run efficiently, and the plan could lead to higher expenses,” Flachsbart said.
Councilman Tom DeCampi cited political concerns for his opposition.
“Republicans have not won a St. Louis citywide office since 1971 — and the Republican Party no longer even runs candidates for office in St. Louis,” he said. “The re-entry of St. Louis into St. Louis County would release a tsunami of far-left votes.”
Mayor Bob Nation agreed that St. Louis’ entry into the county “would nearly eliminate the voice of Chesterfield residents in countywide elections.”
During public comment, resident Ann Morrison said she supported the council’s vote.
“We all know about St. Louis’ crime statistics and drug and other problems,” she said.
“St. Charles County has declined a MetroLink expansion on similar grounds — they don’t want people coming there from the inner city,” Morrison said. “And we shouldn’t join with St. Louis until they clean up their act.”