Finance and Taxation
In many of Missouri's municipalities, annual revenues are never adequate to meet the service needs and demands of citizens. The continuing reduction of federal funds and the reductionof service delivery responsibility to the local level may cause this situation to become acute for many municipalities. Cities are particularly frustrated by state constitutional and statutory provisions that restrict the sources of municipal revenue, while the state and federal governments continue to enactrules, regulations and guidelines affecting or dictating municipal services, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, prevailing wage, workers' compensation and unemployment compensation. This combination – elimination of federal support, state restrictions on revenue sources and mandated state and federal regulations – may well lead to a reduction in essential municipal services in many municipalities.
The General Assembly is urged to give municipalities greater freedom to increase revenues without the restrictions of limiting legislation, such as earmarking revenue for special purposes, except when the revenue is generated by users of the service. This would allow the needed flexibility to meet changing conditions.
MML Staff Representative: Richard Sheets, Deputy Director
Municipal Administration and Intergovernmental Relations
Missouri municipal officials are seriously handicapped in responding to citizen needs and demands for services by obsolete and restrictive statutory provisions relating to municipal government administration. There is a need to clarify the legal powers of general-purpose local governments. While Missouri's home rule provisions are progressive and flexible, considerable unshackling remains to be done to authorize cities to determine their own internal structure, lift the legal barriers to adequate local taxation and moderate state controls over local government.
Though new problems can be solved and responsibilities met by cities having their own charters, the vast majority of Missouri municipalities cannot respond until such time as the General Assembly provides specific authority for them to act.
While the state and federal governments have an obligation to encourage and assist sound municipal management, they should adhere to the principle of home rule and maximize opportunities for local self-determination to the fullest extent possible. The importance of retaining flexible and strong municipal government must be actively communicated and pursued. It is this governmental structure that allows residents the greatest opportunity to serve, either voluntarily or in an elective position, and to initiate and consent to its own legislation.
MML Staff Representative: Stuart Haynes, Policy & Membership Associate
Economic Development and Human Resources
The most important resources in our municipalities are people. The human resource development efforts of all levels of government must be directed toward the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life of people by increasing their social, economic and physical health, security and personal mobility, and by ensuring an equal opportunity in the selection of basic goods and services. Municipal human resource development efforts have been hampered in the past because cooperative efforts of federal and state governments in human resource development traditionally have bypassed or ignored local governments, despite the fact that more than two-thirds of the human services clientele reside within municipal boundaries. As a result, municipalities have had limited experience with human resource planning and management.
Because the ultimate responsibility for implementation of human resource and economic development policies and programs generally falls to local governments, their input to state and federal policy and program development must be considered crucial. The Missouri Municipal League (MML) believes it is essential that federal and state governments must cooperate with local efforts to assume this responsibility and to build a local capacity for economic development, human resource planning, policy, oversight and program development and management. MML strongly encourages an active dialogue between the Missouri Department of Economic Development and MML regarding human resource and economic development legislative priorities.
In developing a coordinated state/local human resource and economic development strategy, both levels ofgovernment should recognize the differences in planning for and delivery of services in rural and urban areas. Rural areas have fewer service providers who are more geographically dispersed as are their clientele. Proper attention should be paid to tailoring service programs to a particular area’s needs and available resources.
MML Staff Representative: Laura Holloway, Communications Specialist
Environment, Energy and Sustainable Development
To develop a community is to protect and improve the physical, economic and social conditions and opportunities an urban area affords its inhabitants. The goal is the creation of an urban environment responsive to and supportive of individual expression and endeavor.
Local governments have broad responsibilities to develop more livable communities. The physical improvement and preservation of the environment is essential. This includes not only the provision of physical facilities and protection of natural resources for a city’s population, it also includes primary consideration for the human requirements for living within the physical confines of the city, the effect of physical development on the total community life of the city, and the effects of urbanization upon the environment.
Uncontrolled development at the unincorporated fringes of cities is detrimental to health, safety and orderly urban development. Municipalities should be permitted to exercise the extraterritorial powers of planning, zoning, enforcement of building codes and regulation of subdivisions within adjacent unincorporated areas. Federal and state laws that create or favor single-purpose and other special districts should be revised so as to assign the performance of new public services or the extension of old ones to existing units of general purpose local government.
MML Staff Representative: Ramona Huckstep, Policy & Membership Associate