BALLWIN, MO (KTVI) – As community leaders continue to discuss merging St. Louis City with St. Louis County, one municipality is taking action against this reunification.
St. Louis City hasn’t been part of St. Louis County since 1876, and the Ballwin Board of Aldermen wants to keep it that way. At their meeting on Monday night, with all but one abstention, the aldermen voted to pass a resolution opposing the merger.
With that vote, Ballwin became the first municipality to officially stand up against the city and county reuniting.
Ballwin Mayor Tim Pogue says, “I believe that we provide our residents with a very high level of service, and I feel that this unification of services and possibly reduction of services we provide our residents would be a travesty to Ballwin.”
The topic of St. Louis City re-entering the county as a municipality has been discussed for decades. But recently talks have accelerated, with the formation of groups like Better Together St. Louis, which facilitates discussion on the issue. St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley is a board member of this grassroots group. He says, “One of the things we’re looking at is, how can we spend taxpayer dollars more efficiently? Can we get the biggest bang for the bucks? How much money are we actually spending for goods and services and can we do it better?”
According to supporters of city/county reunification, other benefits include boosting the region’s image, improving crime statistics, and creating a more competitive job market.
Still, many remain opposed. At the Ballwin Board of Aldermen meeting, speakers cited concerns about city problems seeping into the county, and maintaining the culture and quality of life in each unique municipality.
Former Ballwin Mayor Walter Young explains their sense of urgency in passing the resolution: “If we don’t get out and say no, then people are going to think it’s ok. So we need to have both sides being discussed, and I don’t think that’s going on right now.” He adds, “I hope that the other municipalities, like Chesterfield and different ones around the area, will grab a hold of it and pass it also, so that they know that Better Together is not going to able to walk through this and think that they’re fine.”
Still, with no official reunification plan in place right now, Dooley feels Ballwin’s resolution is premature. The county executive explains, “First of all, we don’t have enough information to have a vote on anything, so I don’t know what they’re voting on, because there are no particular plans. It’s just having a conversation, gathering information so we can talk about it, and decide what is best for us.”
Any city/county reunification plan would require the citizens’ vote.