Citzens of two shrinking Metro East municipalities will be asked on the March 17 primary ballot if they should be merged.
The boards of both the city of Centreville and village of Alorton each approved a referendum that, if approved, would join the municipalities in an aldermanic style of government. The city, according to the referendum, would be called Alcentra.
At least one resident says the community isn’t excited about the idea of a merger. Shirley Collins, who has been a homeowner in Alorton for almost 20 years, said no one she’s talked to in the community supports the proposed merger.
“I have not talked to one person who is in agreement with this merger,” she said. “They’re trying to sell people a bunch of dreams.”
Collins said the merger was “sprung” on her and other community members, some of which, she said, haven’t received word of an upcoming town hall meeting to discuss the matter.
That meeting is set for Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the Charlie Coleman Center in Alorton.
Neither Alorton Mayor JoAnn Reed or Centreville Mayor Marius Jackson have returned repeated requests for comment.
Reed distributed a letter in the community telling residents the village’s board of trustees fully supports the merger. Alorton’s board of trustees is made up of Ditchra Henderson, Lisa Golliday-Brown, Leo Stewart, Gwen McCallum, Ferlandis Smith, Devione Kidd Cler, Jan Scott and treasurer Kimberly Story.
“Whether we agree or disagree with the process, myself and each member of the board of trustees totally agree with the proposal,” Reed said.
It wrote further that consolidation would lead to better road and sewers, housing, jobs, government and lower taxes. She said that, currently, less than $100,000 a year is collected to fix Alorton’s street and that eliminating the Centreville Township would save $430 a year for homeowners.
Beyond Reed’s letter and the referendum itself, no other details about the merger and how it would be executed have been released. Sarah Lehman, an official with the St. Clair County Clerk’s elections office, said the merger will depend on a simple majority of voters in both municipalities.
Reed’s letter also stated: “false rumors” have been spread about the proposed merger. She said the town hall meeting in February would dispel those rumors. ... I would never knowingly make a decision concerning our future that wasn’t in the best interest of the citizens,” she wrote.
She added that Township Supervisor Curtis L. McCall, Jackson, and Cahokia mayor Curtis McCall Jr. will be at the town hall to take part in the merger discussion.
“We will be there to present the truth regarding the merger and will be available for questions,” Reed wrote.
Collins isn’t convinced. She said there’s more pressing issues in Alorton than a merger and doesn’t believe a merger would result in any of the benefits Reed promises in her letter.
She said elected officials need to do more before they ask for the community’s trust.
“I need to see actions before it comes from a vote,” Collins said. “We need people in our community that actually care about our community.”
Kavahn Mansouri is a reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.
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