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Ballot issues could be big for small municipalities

Vinita Park Mayor James McGee speaks against proposed standards for polcie departments in St. Louis County in December 2015.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Vinita Park mayor James McGee, pictured here in December 2015, is backing a merger between his city and neighboring Vinita Terrace.

Residents of two North County municipalities will vote on Tuesday whether to become one.

The governing bodies of Vinita Park and Vinita Terrace jointly submitted an application for merger to the St. Louis Boundary Commission in April. That board voted in June to put the merger on the November ballot.

Vinita Park — population 1,900 people – already provides a number of city services to Vinita Terrace, which has a population of 278 people. The two towns are separated only by Page and Midland boulevards, and were marketed jointly in the 1920s. If voters in both cities say yes, Vinita Terrace will cease to exist. The merger would become final in April.

Vinita Park is the area highlighted. Vinita Terrace on its eastern border.
Credit Map by Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio
Vinita Park is the area highlighted. Vinita Terrace on its eastern border.

At a hearing on the proposed merger in May, Vinita Terrace trustee Mary Tevlin encouraged her constituents to vote yes.

"We’ve done a lot of things together from National Nights Out, to picnics to lots of organizational things, church things. It’s always been kind of a dual community," she said. 

Dan Clasby, the chairman of the Vinita Terrace board and James McGee, the mayor of Vinita Park, both said they had not heard of any organized opposition to the merger. 

Twin Oaks incorporation

Also on Tuesday, the 290 registered voters in Twin Oaks will decide whether they want to become the state's newest city.

Incorporating as a fourth-class city would give Twin Oaks officials more taxing power. But village chairman Russ Fortune says the vote isn’t a money grab, but a response to a 2015 bill that would have forced all villages to discorporate.

map shows where Twin Oaks is
Credit Map by Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio
Twin Oaks is asking residents to change its status.

"That concerned us greatly, because since 1938, we have very much enjoyed our local governance and local representation," he said. Twin Oaks maintains its own streets and does its own leaf pick-up, Fortune said, and the quality of those services would decline if the village no longer exists.

The disincorporation bill, sponsored by state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, went nowhere.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

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