ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo– With time running out for public comment, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page Wednesday voiced his opposition to a Manchester annexation plan that would add 1,400 acres and roughly 6,500 residents in an area south of Queeny Park that stretches to Carmen Road, Barrett Station Road and Dougherty Ferry Road.
“In the unincorporated area that Manchester is considering, the county maintains more than 60 miles of roads and the county public works and transportation department repairs and provides snow removal for these roads that residents have come to rely on,” Page said, including County Police service which county leaders say includes a response time of under 2 minutes. “For the city of Manchester to provide the same level of services to those in the unincorporated area that will mean more costs to those living in Manchester and the area under consideration for annexation with no guarantees that those new services will be as good as what they have now,” he said.
Page said he will write a letter by Friday asking the County's Boundary Commission to reject the proposal. County department heads will also be writing, he said.
Manchester officials made their presentation to the Boundary Commission late last month and argued that the move is a logical expansion for the city, would reunite some subdivisions which are currently split between the city and unincorporated St. Louis County, and would bring what it describes as a “sense of community” to the area.
The public comment period for annexation closes July 18, and the panel has until February 17, 2023 to decide to reject it or send it to a public vote.
“Educate the residents of the pros & cons. Let them decide. It will, however, come with a significant tax increase,” County Councilman Tim Fitch, who represents the area, told Spectrum News in a direct message.
Manchester Mayor Mike Clement disputes the tax claim, which he says doesn’t include the fact that residents in the newly-annexed area would save as much as $20 per month on trash collection.
According to the city’s proposal, property owners will be eligible for a tax rebate to make up for a street repair proposition that will see work done in 2023 that they will have had no voice in approving, allowing them to recoup a $.28 tax levy on residential, commercial and personal property. Property owners who get the rebate would see an increase of $.035 per $100 of assessed valuation and a $.05 per $100 of assessed valuation for personal property taxes.
Clement also questioned the county’s methodology for calculating police response times. A County Police spokesperson said the time is based on an officer’s response while on the beat in a particular area, and not coming from the nearest precinct station. The city says it can respond to emergencies in four minutes or less and would add 12 officers if voters approve annexation.
Clement says a decision from the Boundary Commission could come by September. If voters approve, city services would begin in the fourth quarter of 2023, with the exception of police, which would likely start by the summer of 2024.