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Chesterfield ponders city-county merger response

In the aftermath of Better Together’s proposal calling for a statewide vote on a plan to merge the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County into a “metro city,” the city of Chesterfield plans to take an in-depth look at options to combat or otherwise deal with the issue.

 When and how best to do that took up most of the time the council had allotted for its agenda review session before its regularly scheduled Feb. 20 meeting.

The city-county merger issue was to be on the agenda of an upcoming meeting of the council’s Finance and Administration [F&A] Committee. However, City Attorney Chris Graville noted that committees cannot go into closed session and that what he wanted to share and discuss qualified as legal advice that could and should be reviewed behind closed doors. 

A discussion of alternatives and strategies at a public meeting could compromise the city’s legal position later, he added.

As a result, the consensus was to cancel the Feb. 25 F&A meeting and to schedule an executive session of the entire council, most likely in connection with its next regular session March 4.

After options and strategies are discussed, Graville said, “Council members can determine what action they may want to take and then announce publicly how they plan to go forward.”

Graville conceded the merger issue and all of its ramifications are “completely new to me.” But, he added, they are new to almost everyone else with an interest or role in what’s happening.

The city attorney also suggested informing residents about the various services Chesterfield provides and the qualifications and expertise city personnel bring to their work.

In a related discussion, the council considered holding a town hall meeting on the merger issue, either for Chesterfield residents only or in partnership with other communities. City Administrator Mike Geisel was asked to look into the logistics of such a session.            

Geisel later said he is reasonably sure there’s enough interest in Chesterfield alone to warrant a town hall meeting and that expanding it to include other communities could lead to a turnout too large to accommodate.

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