Residents of St. George Slay the Municipal Dragon
I can say with some certainty that this is our last post about the small Saint Louis County municipality of St. George, because in a few days it will no longer exist. Last night, voters in the city of St. George voted to disincorporate. I think they made the right decision.
The city long survived on speeding ticket revenues. After a few scandals resulted in the disbanding of the St. George Police Department, the Saint Louis County Police Department took over. That was perfectly fine for the residents’ safety, but the County has no interest in writing speeding tickets solely for the purpose of city revenues. So the city lost its major source of revenue, the streets started to crumble, and there was no money for repairs. Thankfully, smart thinking prevailed and the city will no longer be with us once the votes are certified.
I am not a knee-jerk supporter of fewer municipalities in Saint Louis County. There are benefits (as well as costs) to having a number of small cities. The lack of centralized urban planning is the main benefit. However, in some instances, the tiny municipalities in the county border on the ludicrous, and St. George was Exhibit A.
I think some of the other 91 90 cities in the County should consider doing the same. Some should disincorporate, some should merge, and some others should follow Jennings’ lead and remain as they are while making key changes. I have no idea what would be the “best” number of cities in the County. Nobody else does either. For the sake of this post, I would say that about 70 cities would allow for the benefits of many cities while getting rid of the most obvious cost inefficiencies and poor policies (like cities that have a primary funding source of speeding tickets).
Whatever the choice, it should be up to local citizens. I think the local citizens of the newly-unincorporated community formerly known as St. George made the right decision and have shown us the way.