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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Now a St. Louis Rep Wants to Consolidate 31 Other Missouri Counties

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 5:58 PM

click to enlarge FLICKR/UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI SYSTEM

If St. Louis County and St. Louis city really are better together, isn't that also true of, say, Mercer County and Putnam County? What about Worth County (population 2,053)? Why not merge all 31 Missouri counties of fewer than 10,000 residents with their nearest neighbor?

And hey, while you're at it, why not have state voters decide on who gets merged, not the small-county residents whose representation will be affected?

Taking her cue from the Better Together effort aimed at forcing St. Louis city and county into a shotgun marriage, state Representative Gina Mitten (D-St. Louis County) filed a resolution at the statehouse today aimed at forcing similar consolidations of our rural neighbors. Tongue firmly in cheek, twinkle presumably in her eye, Mitten titled her press release on the resolution "Rep Mitten Says What's Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander."



The resolution calls for ballot language in 2020 that would treat the state's smallest counties — you can see a list here — much like its biggest. "Smaller counties would be absorbed by the larger counties in their select grouping," Mitten writes. "As has been proposed for St. Louis, the presiding commissioner of the largest county in the group would continue to serve, without a new election, until the general election of 2024."

Reached by phone, Mitten says, "We have counties with lesser population than many municipalities in the St. Louis County area. If the idea is that there will be efficiencies by consolidating government, why would these efficiencies not be extended to other counties?" And hey, why not let state voters decide, not just the people who will be affected? If it's good enough for St. Louis ....

Mitten says she welcomes co-sponsors to her efforts. But asked whether she's dead set against Better Together, she laughs. "I can't say I'm opposed to Better Together; it seems to be a moving target at this point. I do have an issue with the idea of raising sales taxes to lower property taxes."

And, she adds, "The idea that the rest of Missouri can force an entirely new government on what's effectively two counties strikes me as fundamentally at odds with democracy." So there you have it .... watch out, Missourah, we could be coming for you!

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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