St. Louis Board of Aldermen
4:10 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

St. Louis Board of Aldermen mulls halving its numbers

The size of St. Louis's ward districts could more than double under a proposal moving through the Board of Alderman's Legislation Committee this week.

Members discussed a bill today that would eliminate about half of the city's aldermanic seats - from the current 28 down to 12.

Alderman Scott Ogilvie supports the change but says the board must consider how the duties of aldermen would be affected. 

"It's about changing the job description, adjusting the job description," Ogilvie said. "We could ask for that adjustment. We could ask for more staff, a financial staff, a research staff, but we will never get those things as long as there are 28 members on the board of aldermen."

Supporters also say the reduction would make the board more efficient, but Alderman Joe Vaccaro says it would make it harder to help his constituents.

"Well, they would get less service," Vaccaro said. "There's just no way jumping from what's roughly about 11,000 people to about 25,000 - aldermen would probably do their best but it would be an impossibility."

Similar proposals to cut the number of aldermen have failed in the past. If approved by the board, the question would be put to voters this November. In that vote, changing the city's charter would require a super-majority -- or 60 percent approval.

The proposed changes would take a little while to take effect if approved - after the 2020 census.