Maintaining local control is a top 2018 legislative priority for a key Missouri organization.
The Missouri Municipal League’s aim is to strengthen cities through unity and cooperation. The organization represents about 650 Missouri municipalities.
Hazelwood Mayor Matthew Robinson is the Municipal League’s new President.
“It’s a high priority of the Municipal League to stay on top of legislative issues that are important to municipalities,” Robinson says.
Keeping decisions at the local level is their top priority.
The Missouri Municipal League says a state law aimed at reforming municipal courts has disrupted many of them.
Municipal League Deputy Director Richard Sheets says their organization supports legislation from State Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, to modify parts of Senate Bill 5.
“Those kind of consequences don’t come out until after a bill is passed,” says Sheets. “And our priority is to fix that, fix those problems and make our municipal courts function like they need to function.”
Under current Missouri law, no more than 20 percent of a municipality’s annual general operating revenue can come from fines, penalties and forfeitures.
Senator Emery’s bill repeals court costs and amended charges for municipal ordinance violations from being included in the 20 percent calculation.
Meantime, legislation to increase Missouri’s gasoline tax for transportation has the backing of the Municipal League. Sheets tells Missourinet it’s an economic development and a public safety issue.
“Our municipal officials understand that our transportation network, the state network, is vital to our economy,” Sheets says. “It’s how we move goods, it’s how our citizens move about and that’s how our tourism works.”
The state’s gasoline and diesel taxes have both been at 17-cents a gallon since 1996.
Missouri’s 21st century transportation system task force is recommending a ten-cent gasoline tax increase and a 12-cent diesel tax increase.
House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, has filed legislation to raise the gasoline tax ten-cents and the diesel tax 12-cents. Both would require voter approval.
Mayor Robinson also says internet purchases are causing declining sales tax revenues for cities. Robinson notes the Municipal League supports a use tax on internet sales.
“Something’s gotta change there. Our revenues have dropped over the years and we need to fight and keep those revenues that we have and keep them afloat,” says Robinson.
Many Missouri cities rely on sales tax revenue to fund services like police and fire protection.
The Municipal League was established in 1934. Hazelwood, which is located in north St. Louis county, has about 27,000 residents and 12 Fortune 500 companies, according to the city website.
Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and Hazelwood Mayor Matthew Robinson, Missouri Municipal League Executive Director Dan Ross and Missouri Municipal League Deputy Director Richard Sheets, which was recorded on November 30, 2017 at Missourinet: