After the recent Missouri Municipal League legislative conference, Union city officials are eyeing two key pieces of legislation that could impact area municipalities.
The first, which City Administrator Russell Rost called an unfunded mandate, is House Bill 2242, which would establish the “Missouri Municipality Government Expenditure Database.”
According to the bill language, the database would be maintained by the state treasurer in conjunction with the Office of Administration.
It would require that a municipality’s expenditures and vendors to which payments are made be logged and accessible by the public without charge. It also must have multiple ways to search and filter the information and have a link to the database.
Under the proposal, the same information must be made available to the treasurer quarterly. If cities don’t provide the information, they will be fined $100 per day after 14 days.
The piece of legislation stemmed from an open records request made to 152 cities across Missouri, including Union, Assistant City Administrator James Schmieder told the parks, buildings, development and public service committee this week.
The request was for all vendors and bills paid over a five-year period. Some cities had large fees associated with the request because of the amount of research and manpower to fulfill the request.
The city of Union responded to the request by sending its annual report.
“This is definitely an unfunded mandate, because it will cost money to send this information and to protect our data from hackers once we allow a portal for somebody to get into our systems,” Rost said. “It’s just bad legislation.”
The Missouri Municipal League agrees, noting on its website that the bill singles out municipalities and should include all public entities, such as the state, counties and special districts.
“Despite the claims of bill supporters, it takes more than a ‘click’ of a computer key to provide the excessive amount of information mandated by this bill,” the site says, urging municipalities to contact the House Local Government Committee to urge them to oppose the bill.
Rost said the second bill the city is watching is House Bill 2092, which proposes a 10-cent tax increase on motor fuel and a 12-cent increase on diesel fuel.
“They’re trying to put the bill to voters to help fix MoDOT’s (Missouri Department of Transportation) funding issues,” he said.
While the city hasn’t taken an official position on the bill, Rost said there are concerns about the lack of funding for MoDOT and about approved projects being completed.