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Five things to know about the proposed consolidation of Vinita Park and Vinita Terrace

Vinita Park police logo
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Boundary Commission will, for the first time in its 25 years, take public testimony on a proposed consolidation.

The city of Vinita Park and the village of Vinita Terrace submitted their application for consolidation to the commission in April. The commission's seven members have already determined that the application contains all the needed material. The next step is the public hearing, which is Tuesday night at Washington Elementary School,1730 N. Hanley Rd.

Here are five things to help you understand what comes next.

What are the vital statistics on each city?

Vinita Park

  • Incorporated: March 13, 1950, as a 4th class city
  • Area: 460.8 acres
  • Population at last census: 1,880

Vinita Terrace

  • Incorporated: 1940 as a village
  • Area: 38.4 acres
  • Population at last census: 277

Why consolidation?

To put it simply, Senate Bill 5. 

Though a Cole County judge in March struck down the restraints the legislation placed on how much money cities could generate via traffic ticket revenue, Vinita Park Mayor James McGee said the legislative focus on municipal reforms made cities like his take notice.

"They want more cities to merge, those that are in economic distress" he said of lawmakers in Jefferson City. "So that's what we're here for, to help each other."

Why these two cities?

Vinita Park and Vinita Terrace are separated only by Page Avenue and Midland Boulevard. They were jointly marketed back in the 1920s, taking their names from the old electric car station at Page and Midland. Vinita Park already provides policing, snow removal, street cleaning and mosquito control for Vinita Terrace on a contract basis. And students in the cities attend Normandy schools together.

What could consolidation mean for residents in the two cities?

Not much is likely to change for residents of Vinita Park.

Vinita Terrace residents would see a property and gross receipts tax increase. A number of other fees, such as those for pet tags, occupancy and business and other permits would also go up, sometimes substantially.

But, as the application notes, that would probably happen without consolidation. "The financial reality for the Village of Vinita Terrace is that with current revenues as they are and now additional requirements place on municipalities, the village would have to increase taxes in order to remain economically viable as a municipality." 

The consolidation would give Vinita Terrace residents "new professional, full-time local services simply by combining with a larger municipality that has full-time public works, clerk, financial and other full-time paid staff," the application said.

What's the process for a consolidation?

Vinita Park's Board of Aldermen approved an ordinance supporting the consolidation on March 21. Vinita Terrace's Board of Trustees did the same on April 11. The two cities submitted their application to the Boundary Commission for review on April 19.

The commission has already determined that the application is complete and can be considered. After the public hearing on Tuesday, it has nine months to act. Both Vinita Park and Vinita Terrace have asked the members for expedited consideration so residents can vote on the consolidation at the November election. Regardless of when the vote occurs, it takes a 50 percent plus one majority in each city to pass.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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