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St. Louis County towns eye municipal court mergers

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ST. LOUIS (AP) _ With the calls for municipal court reform continuing after the fatal Ferguson police shooting, some towns in north St. Louis County aren’t waiting for possible changes to state law that could spell their demise.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ( reports that the nonprofit group Beyond Housing is coordinating talks among 24 North County municipalities about possible court mergers.

The county’s 80 municipal courts have been targeted by critics who say the courts extract fines and fees from poor drivers while using the money to fund local governments, which in some cases serve just a few hundred residents.

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit cities from funding more than 10 percent of their budgets with revenue from traffic tickets. The current cap is 30 percent.