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Municipality of St. George is now just a memory

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 18, 2012 - St. George has effectively been wiped off the map.

Bob Burns, the trustee appointed to oversee the final stages of dismantling the small south St. Louis County town, announced to the St. Louis County Council Tuesday that the work to dissolve the city was finished. That included turning $369,869.34 to the county, which he said would go into its general revenue fund.

“Our work is complete, it’s been a wonderful experience,” Burns told the council. “The professionalism of St. Louis County is beyond compare.”

St. George residents voted to discorporate last year by an overwhelming margin. The affirmative vote meant that the town would become part of unincorporated St. Louis County.

In an interview after the council’s meeting, Burns said the former city hall will become a police substation and St. George's park will be absorbed in the county system. Almost immediately after the vote was certified, he said, St. Louis County public works were already at work fixing streets.

Burns added that the county had put the area on a schedule for working on and replacing St. George’s streets starting in 2013.

“So it’s going to be a wonderful thing for the residents," Burns said. "With the round-the-clock police presence at the substation, it’s going to help our property values and it’s going to protect our part of St. Louis County. So it’s been a wonderful experience.”

The key to making disincorporation a reality was bringing in St. Louis County Police Department for law enforcement matters, he said. St. George had some high-profile scandals involving its own police department, including an incident where an officer got into an altercation with a man in a commuter lot.

“It was a lot better with St. Louis County there," Burns said. "There was no St. George Police there to harass anybody, to do anything that they were notorious for doing.”

During his remarks to the council, Burns joked that the process had gone so smoothly that other St. Louis County municipalities should consider dissolving. But he said afterward that smaller towns and cities should give the idea some thought.

“As sophisticated as St. Louis County is, with all the services they offer, with the professionalism of [St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley] as their leader, there is no reason to have a municipality,” Burns said. “Maybe some large ones, there might be. I don’t know what those reasons are. But for a place the size of St. George, it was absolutely ridiculous to have that layer of government. You do not need it with the sophisticated services of St. Louis County.”

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.