60+ years is long enough for the City of St. George according to Alderwoman Carmen Wilkerson... Outgoing Alderwoman that is. She's obviously not running for re-election in April.
She says her municipality, with two business and about 850 registered voters, is no longer necessary. She says St. Louis County can do a better job providing services than the city. The county already handles police duties after the city got rid of its troubled police force a couple of years ago.
It's police protection that got Wilkerson going on this disincorporation kick. She says private meetings by city leaders propose resurrecting an infamous speed trap along Reavis Barracks to generate revenue. Since St. Louis County Police won't be a part of that, Wilkerson says St. George is looking at getting another municipality's police department to do that. Wilkerson calls speed traps an "unethical and immoral" way to raise city revenue and if that's what the City of St. George needs to do, maybe St. George doesn't need to be a city.
I stopped by St. George City Hall Tuesday morning. Mayor Mary Kauffman wasn't there but I had a nice chat with the city administrator who chose her words carefully, but clearly was against Wilkerson's disincorporation idea. I can't blame the administrator. She and other city employees would certainly be out of a job.
I called the Mayor who clearly likes to be accessible as she makes her cell number available. But I got her voicemail three times between Tuesday and Wendesday. She responded with an email Tuesday afternoon... a three-page email to the citizens of St. George. She discounted Wilkerson's idea of disincorporation saying her town is on "sound financial footing."
Regarding a contract with another police department, Mayor Kaufmann says the city is not accepting bids right now but for the city's next contract, the mayor will present proposals of highly qualified agencies for the Police Contract to the Board of Alderman.
Mayor Kaufmann went on to say, "The City needs alderpersons dedicated to working with the Mayor and Board to maximize benefits to our residents, not someone bent on liquidating the entity he/she is sworn to uphold."
The good news for the St. George taxpayers is, neither Mayor Kaufmann nor Alderwoman Wilkerson have the power to make a change or keep things the same. It will be up to the town's 850 or so registered voters.
Alderwoman Carmen Wilkerson and supporters will distribute a petition soon. If she gets the necessary number of valid signatures, the county will put the issue on a ballot likely later this year. Then if 60% of St. George voters vote to disincorporate, that's what will happen.
Should be interesting. We'll let you know where this story goes, by George.
Mark Schnyder is a reporter at KMOV-TV. He can be reached at MSchnyder@kmov.com.