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Wildwood Council set to vote on St. Louis City-County merger resolution

By: Mary Shapiro

Wildwood’s City Council is set to vote Aug. 14 on a resolution opposing any merger or reunification of St. Louis City and County.

The council, during a July 24 work session, approved drafting the resolution. In the 13 to 3 vote, councilmembers Debra Smith McCutchen [Ward 5], Jerry Porter [Ward 6] and Don Bartoni [Ward 2] were opposed. McCutchen insisted the city needs to get input from residents, such as through a survey, on their opinion of the issue.

“I’d like to hear what they say before we make a statement,” she said.

To that end, city staff are preparing questions for a resident survey that also will be presented to the council on Aug. 14.

Councilmember Marc Cox [Ward 4], with input from other ouncilmembers, prepared the language of the resolution. It states that the city of Wildwood “stands in opposition to any merger, reunification, re-entry, or similar plan that would combine St. Louis County and St. Louis City.”

Cox said “several groups and multiple influential individuals in St. Louis County and City [are] dedicated to reunification of the city and the county within 12 months.”

“Based on information given to the council on June 26 from our lobbyist, it is also becoming apparent that the quest to achieve reunification or merger or re-entry will likely be a question placed on a statewide ballot – designed specifically to overrule any voices of opposition in St. Louis County,” Cox said. He added that Wildwood incorporated for the express reason of having local control over development, and the size and scope of its local government.

“Today, that dream is reality, but we could see it all disappear,” he said. “Flowery language in studies by groups like Better Together and St. Louis Strong suggests that hundreds of millions of dollars could be saved in the region when it comes to duplication of services … but if you look closely, they repeatedly mention ‘inequities.’ That’s a wealth transfer … this is a bailout, plain and simple,” Cox said.

“It is imperative that we act quickly to address this issue before it’s too late.”

He said a city survey or public meetings may be more cost effective than a ballot measure. City Attorney John Young also cautioned that the city has no authority to hold advisory elections, the results of which would be nonbinding and that doing so would be inconsistent with the city’s charter.

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