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Election Day: St. George Votes on Disincorporation

The disincorporation measure needs to get 60 percent of the vote to disband the municipality.

Less than a year after in a last minute campaign, Mayor Carmen Wilkerson and her allies are on the brink of potentially achieving their singular aim: disincorporating the tiny city of St. George.

On an otherwise off-year, unexciting election day, St. George's approximately 1300 residents will get to vote on whether or not to continue to be a municipality, or join unincorporated St. Louis County. The measure, signed by more than half the registered voters in the city, must get at least 60 percent of the vote to pass.

"We’ve worked hard the last couple weeks to get out the vote," Wilkerson said, adding that she was nervous but pretty positive about the measure's chances. "If we just get out the vote, the yeses will take care of themselves."

In the last few weeks, St. George has held two . Wilkerson said that she and other disincorporation supporters have also recanvased the city to remind residents of the vote.

Historically there has been very little municipal political participation in St. George. Aldermen regularly got elected with barely more than a dozen votes. The voter turnout at April's write-in election was the biggest St. George had mustered in years.

“Having a city government is a big responsibility,” Wilkerson told Patch after the election in April. “If we aren’t going to treat it as a responsibility and participate, we should just get rid of it.”

Wilkerson argues that there is no need for St. George, with a total area of 0.3 square miles, to be its own city any more. Most of its formerly independent departments now contract for service from St. Louis County. In terms of taxes, on a switch to unincorporated county. In more recent years the city government and police force .

The mayor also argues that the city may not continue to be economically viable. Even though Wilkerson's administration has made heavy staff and expenses cuts since taking over, city revenues have dropped since the disbanding of the city's . Now the roads of St. George, decades past their planned life expectancy, are in need of expensive repairs. According to a St. Louis County assessment, replacing the streets will cost $1,265,650, and Wilkerson warned residents that the city, if it remains a city, would have to raise taxes if it wanted to take on such a project.

The disincorporation measure is not without its detractors, however. Sporting buttons and lawn signs that read "Save Our City," opponents have distributed flyers saying that it is be cheaper to live in St. George than in the county and that the neighborhood would receive less police attention if disincorporated.

If the disincorporation measure passes with 60 percent of the vote, the county will disincorporate the city. After that, the city and the county would work together to wind down the business of the municipality: settle contracts, collect assets, deal with outstanding legal matters.

If the measure fails, the city will remain, with Wilkerson as mayor, and disincorporation supporters will have to begin the petition and voting process over again.

"We'll keep being a city and have to come up with some way to fix our streets and pay for everything," Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson said the one thing that has her worried is the weather. Tuesday's forcast predicts rain the morning and thunder storms in the afternoon.

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