The city of St. Paul and Ramsey County may, by agreement subject to this section, provide for the merger of the city elections office with the county election office. The consolidation shall be set to begin at the beginning of a fiscal year. In the preceding fiscal year and each year thereafter the county shall provide a budget and levy a property tax for the merged office that will defray the costs of the services provided throughout the county by the merged office. The county shall succeed to the obligations of the city under any collective bargaining agreements in existence at the time of the merger. Nothing in this section or in an agreement for merger under this section shall diminish any rights defined in collective bargaining agreements. The merger must not occur until bargaining units representing affected employees have completed negotiations on postmerger terms and conditions of employment. The county shall succeed to the other obligations and to the real and personal property of the merged city offices.