St. Louis aldermen propose amendment to reducing size of board

Despite a voter-approved plan to reduce the number of wards in St. Louis from 28 to 14 some six years ago, city aldermen are not so keen on handing their futures to their residents anymore.

In a new bill introduced last week to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, Ward 21, proposed putting an amendment to the qualified voters of the city of St. Louis to maintain the board as a body of 28 aldermen.

After being shot down numerous times in the past, about 60 percent of St. Louis voters chose to reduce the number of city aldermen by half in 2012. The current voter-approved plan is not scheduled to take effect until 2022.

With that deadline fast approaching, some officials believe voters should have the chance to reconsider with Muhammad’s Board Bill 25, citing concerns that a reduction in aldermen will make them less accessible to their constituents.

Proponents of a reduction say 28 aldermen is no longer necessary since the city’s population has fallen by 130,000 residents over the last three decades. Others say it will make local government more efficient and will cut costs.

St. Louis voters have rejected four separate plans to reduce the size of the board since 1957.

Alderwoman Heather Navarro, Ward 28, is expected to introduce a resolution that would analyze the pros and cons of reducing the overall size of the city’s governing body.

According to the board’s weekly agenda, Resolution 12, would “explore the effect of ward reduction and develop recommendations for an equitable and efficient transition from twenty-eight to fourteen wards through the establishment of an advisory committee.”

The resolution is co-sponsored by Alderwoman Cara Spencer, Ward 20, and Alderman Scott Ogilvie, Ward 24.

Board Bill 25 will be read for the second time during the board’s weekly meeting at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Louis City Hall.

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