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Wildwood Council tables further discussion of St. Louis City-County merger

By: Mary Shapiro

Wildwood’s City Council has put off, until July 24, further discussion on a planned resolution in opposition to any merger of St. Louis County and City. Some residents say they should have the right to vote on the issue first, but some councilmembers oppose a ballot item altogether.

The Ellisville City Council, on June 21, unanimously approved Mayor Adam Paul’s suggestion to put two non-binding measures on the April 2018 ballot in that community to allow residents to have a say, in advance of any state initiative, on whether they support a city-county merger and on whether the city should enter the county as a municipality.

And while some on the Wildwood council have suggested the possibility of also putting a non-binding ballot issue before city voters, Councilmember Larry McGowen [Ward 1] said he “strongly” opposes such a plan.

“The cost of a vote would be $10,000 to $20,000 potentially; it would be a total waste of money,” he said. “And it would not take the pulse of our community in total. For instance, some of our businesses, churches and schools are operated by those who aren’t voting residents. If we put too much reliance on an election, we’d be overlooking a big part of our community.”

Councilmember Ray Manton [Ward 2] added that the city “shouldn’t dismiss [a merger] out of hand without considering potential transportation, governmental, and fire and police cost savings.”

“I’m hesitant to say if I’d favor [any merger] before I see a proposal,” Councilmember Don Bartoni [Ward 2] said. “I’d need a lot of answers to questions before I’d say no to it.”

Councilmember Jerry Porter [Ward 6] said he would oppose a city resolution now before a merger proposal is finalized.

“To do something now is ridiculous – I suggest we do nothing for now and let this go forward,” he said.

During public comment at the regular meeting that night, resident Mary Beth Marff questioned any proposal that would not call for a non-binding vote of residents.

“You don’t want to hear what citizens are thinking or have to say?” she asked.

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