Newsletter Issue: September 2017

Download the September 2017 Issue (PDF Version)

Upcoming Meetings

September 28 Membership Meeting in Olivette

The first membership meeting of the fall will be held at the new Olivette City Hall, 1140 Dielmann Rd., on Thursday, September 28.  Refreshments and building tours will be begin at 6:30 pm with the meeting getting underway at 7:15 pm.  (Map)  (Directions:  from I-170 exit at westbound Olive Blvd.  Continue west for 3/4 mile to a traffic light at Dielman Road and turn right.  City Hall is behind Walgreens, which is on the corner of Olive and Dielman.)

Program:  Much has been written about studies done by Better Together regarding the cost of governmental operations in the St. Louis region versus other consolidated government such as Indianapolis.

Professor Mark Tranel of the Public Policy Research Center at the University of Missouri St. Louis has undertaken comprehensive comparisons of the St. Louis and Indianapolis regions and offers some conclusions on spending practices that paints a somewhat different picture than what has been presented by Better Together.  We hope you will join us to hear this interesting update

September 28 Training Program on Government Takings

The next Municipal Officials Training Academy program is set for Thursday, September 28 from Noon to 1:15 p.m.  The program is entitled “Regulatory Taking and Exactions”  It will be presented by Steven Lucas of the Cunningham, Vogel and Rost law firm.

Officials are invited to attend via Webinar or in person at Frontenac City Hall. Click HERE to register for the webinar.

Contact the Municipal League office at staff@stlmuni.org for in-person attendance.  Space is limited to the first 25 registrants.

The cost is $20 per person unless the city has an annual subscription. Please make checks payable to and mail to the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis.  Registration by Tuesday, September 26 is encouraged to ensure that all materials are emailed to registrants prior to the program.

Due to the subsidized and focused nature of the Academy, persons attending must be authorized to attend on behalf of a Missouri municipality or political subdivision.  Additionally, registrants will need to state the jurisdiction that has authorized the attendance of the registrant on its behalf upon registration. Approval for persons not attending on behalf of a specific municipality will be subject to the discretion of the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis and Cunningham, Vogel & Rost, P.C on a case-by-case basis and such approval may be denied.

 

Safe Harbor Provisions for Court Revenue Reports

Your League has been pursuing litigation against the state auditor’s rules regarding “Mack’s Creek” court revenue reports. The Curtis Heinz law firm has been handling the case on a pro bono basis. The issue has been the failure of the rules to include a safe harbor as required by statute to allow reporting of total court revenues (without precise tracking of specific revenues from the defined minor traffic and other ordinance violations) when the total court revenues are below the statutory percentage limit. With the success in the Supreme Court, that limit has been confirmed to be 20% rather than 12.5%.

Presumably based on our arguments in the litigation, the auditor has published new emergency and proposed final rules that include the required safe harbor. However, due to rulemaking procedures, the emergency rule will expire on December 22 and the final permanent rule will likely not take effect until December 31 at the earliest. It is also still possible that the permanent rule will not be adopted and the lawsuit will have to proceed. The law firm has submitted comments in support of the proposed permanent rule.

Because of this gap in the rules, we suggest that those with a December 31 reporting deadline make sure to file their report prior to December 22, to take advantage of the safe harbor. However, please consult with your city attorney on this matter as well.

We appreciate the efforts of the Curtis Heinz firm to work to resolve this complicated issue for municipalities.

 

Legislative Affairs Committee Appointed - Begins Work

The League’s Legislative Affairs Committee   has begun meeting to consider suggestions from the membership for new and/or modified policies for the 2018 session.  The chairman is Mayor Terry Briggs of Bridgeton.

The entire legislative packet will be submitted to the membership for approval later this fall.

League members who have recommended issues for committee consideration should contact the office by phone at 314-726-4747 or by email at staff@stlmuni.org.

Other invited committee members are:

City Administrator Bola Akande, Brentwood

Mayor Felicity Buckley, Shrewsbury

City Administrator Matt Conley, St. Ann

Mayor Jon Dalton, Town & Country

Mayor Scott Douglass, Clarkson Valley

Mayor Barry Greenberg, Maplewood

Mayor Norm McCourt, Black Jack

Councilmember Ralph McDaniel, Berkeley

Mayor Viola Murphy, Cool Valley

Mayor Tim Pogue, Ballwin

Councilmember Cindy Pool, Ellisville

Mayor Harold Sanger, Clayton

City Administrator Bob Shelton, Frontenac

Councilmember Ruth Springer, Olivette

Councilmember Paul Ward, Kirkwood

 

2017 Municipal Park Grants

The Municipal Park Grant Commission is accepting applications for quarterly planning grants.  The applications are available on the Commission website, www.muniparkgrants.com.  Applications will be due by October 23 so that they can be reviewed by the Commissioners at their November 2 meeting.  If you have questions about the Planning Grant applications, please contact the Municipal League office.

In addition, the Commission Advisory Board, led by Des Peres Parks Director Brian Schaffer, is reviewing the scoring of the 25 Round 18 construction applications that were submitted in August.  The cities requested $9.3 million while the Commission estimates that $7.3 million will be available.  The Advisory Board, which is comprised of park professionals, completes an objective scoring of each project and submits a report to the Commissioners.  Awards are expected to be announced in November.

 

Land Use and the Law: Conflict of Interest

Most city officials serve because they are committed to public service and seek to improve or protect their neighborhoods and the broader community. Do city officials forfeit their right to speak out on, to participate in discussions or deliberations about, or to vote on matters in which they have a personal or economic interest? When a zoning issue comes before the city that would directly affect themselves or their immediate neighborhood, are they prohibited from acting on it?

CHECK YOUR CITY’S CHARTER OR CODE!

         This section only addresses a number of Missouri statutes regulating conflicts of interest, §§ 105.450 – .498, R.S.Mo. Many cities’ codes of ordinances or charters contain a code of ethics or other provisions that provide guidance on when city officials may or should not participate in deliberations or votes on matters in which they have a personal or pecuniary interest. A city’s provisions on conflicts of interest may be more stringent than those provided in the Missouri statutes.

CITY COUNCIL

         A member of a municipal governing body who has a personal or economic interest in any ordinance or other measure proposed or pending before the city is not automatically foreclosed from participating in the discussions or voting on the matter. See § 105.461, R.S.Mo. However, he or she on may only participate in the matter after filing a written report on the nature of the interest with the city clerk that is recorded in the minutes. § 105.461, R.S.Mo. Whether he or she may participate or vote on the matter depends on the nature and extent of the interest involved, and the specific circumstances of a particular case. One clear rule, however, is that he or she may not participate in discussions or vote on particular zoning regulations or plans that would result in a direct financial gain or loss to him or her. § 105.462(l), R.S.Mo.

Furthermore, whether or not an elected official participates or votes on a matter before the municipality, he or she is free to attempt to influence others about a zoning regulation or plan proposed or pending before the municipality, provided he or she cannot receive any form of compensation for doing so. § 105.462(2), R.S.Mo.

BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT

      A member of a board of zoning adjustment, which is a quasi-judicial body, generally cannot participate in a matter before the board if he or she knows that one of the parties is related by family or money. § 105.464, R.S.Mo. When a board member determines he or she should be disqualified, he or she should do so as soon as possible, so as to avoid prejudice to the municipality or the parties.

The family relationships of a party to a board members that would require that the board member refrain from participating in a case before the board are listed in § 105.464, R.S.Mo. The list is broad, including spouses, former spouses, children, stepchildren, foster children, wards, parents, grandparents, great grandparents, parents, step or foster parents, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. § 105.464(1), R.S.Mo.

If a board member has an ownership or other proprietary interest in any firm or corporation appearing before the board, he or she should disqualify him or her self and refrain from participating in the deliberations or the vote on the matter. Id.

If a party is a trust in which a board member has a legal, equitable or beneficial interest, he or she should not participate. Id.

If a member of a board of zoning adjustment knows that the subject matter of a case before the board is such that he or she would receive a direct financial gain from any potential result of the proceeding, he or she must disqualify him or her self, and may not participate in the deliberations or the vote. § 105.464(2), R.S.Mo.

PENALTIES

      There are criminal penalties for knowing violations of §§ 105.450 – .498, R.S.Mo. The first offense is a class B misdemeanor. §105.478, R.S.Mo. Second and subsequent offenses are Class D felonies. Id

Mary B. Schultz is a partner in the law firm of Schultz & Associates LLP, www.sl-lawyers.com , 640 Cepi Dr., Suite A; Chesterfield (St. Louis), Missouri  63005, (636) 537-4645.  She graduated from Northwestern University Law School more than 30 years ago, in 1985, and have been practicing primarily in Missouri ever since.

     This column is intended to provide general information only. It does not constitute, nor should be relied upon, as legal advice or a legal opinion relating to specific facts or circumstances.

     The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.  

     Reproduction of all or any part of this column is permitted, provided credit is given to Schultz & Associates LLP, and Mary B. Schultz.

 

Planning & Zoning Certificate Offered

The Chancellor’s Certificate in Fundamentals of Planning and Zoning from the University of Missouri-St. Louis is a seven-module course taught by a team of senior practitioners that covers planning practices, processes and other topics crucial for local government success. The program is designed for municipal and county planning and zoning commissioners, elected officials, municipal staff, and citizens interested in the planning and zoning process. Modules are held weekly on Thursdays from 6-9 p.m., Oct. 12 to Dec. 7 (no class on Oct. 19 and Nov. 23) at the J.C. Penney Conference Center on UMSL’s campus. You can register online for individual modules for $75 each or all seven for $400.