Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Do City Ordinances Really Matter???

Transcript of video from 5:06 to 13:20
Buffalo City Council Meeting September 10th 2012
My comments are in red.

Alderman Horn: "I have a question Debby, about your report. It's about the new activities, I'm going to read it so everyone sitting here can see what I see. "Attached is a new ordinance to change the ordinance section to how it is done. Please let me know if anything needs changed as I would like it approved by the September 24th meeting."

I was brought into the mayors office before this meeting, and chastised for my opinions regarding this. (Mayor Mead said if I would have called him, he would have explained this ordinance was only to enable us to be able to pass the budget.  He also stated he was just trying to save me from myself....  What has disabled the council from passing the budget in the past that it needed changing now?  And why bother changing it now if the ordinance hasn't been followed for 19 years?  I believe everything that goes on with our city council should be public knowledge, we should obey the ordinances and strive for transparency.  That is all I'm trying to do.  I don't need saving.) 

I just want to make it public that the budget ordinance that we have currently, is not being followed. We have in our administration report, she has submitted a new proposal. (Ordinance Section 110.250 outlines the proper procedure for introducing an ordinance.  You can find that at the bottom of this posting)

I don't know if anyone would like to see what the new proposal is, but it is not the same as our current budget ordinance. It changes quite a few things to give quite a bit of responsibility to two people, the mayor and our city administrator. Did anyone else on the council notice this at all?"

Alderman Stafford: "I had no problems with it. I noticed it but had no problems with it."

Mayor Mead: "You'd asked a question and I'd like Debby (City Administrator) to respond to that, regarding we're not following our ordinances as currently written."

City Administrator: "This is the way that it's been done for the last 19 years. So this is the way the board's been doing it. The board's never come up with the revenue estimates, the board has never put the preliminary data together, the board has never contacted the department heads and asked them to give their estimates for the year. I've always put the preliminary budget together, then we start having budget meetings with, at one point there was a budget committee but now it's the whole council and then you guys decide what you want put in the budget. (This could be why the budgets are so confusing.  The board of alderman needs to be more involved.  I believe that is why the current ordinance is written the way it is.  I think the city administrator is essential in performing these tasks but the council should be involved in the process and have access to all of this information)

This was not supposed to be me putting the budget together this was what I do now. (What she does now is she puts the budget together.) 

I did check with three other cities and the three other cities all do it, have a person in that spot. They all have a budget calendar just like ours. Ozark has their budget officer named which is their city administrator. Fairgrove has their city clerk named first in all of those. Camdenton has a budget officer which is defined as a finance person, the mayor and the city clerk. So I didn't think there was anything out of line. (The point is we're not following the ordinance. If these other cities have this process as their current ordinance they're complying with an existing law.  My point is we are not.)

I was just trying to fix an ordinance and the only reason it even came up is I brought it to Andrew's (Mayor Mead) attention that the number six in the previous ordinance said that it had to be adopted at the regular meeting in September and we didn't have it ready to adopt. In the 19 years I've been here we've had it adopted one time at the regular meeting in September. So that is what we were actually trying to fix. I was just trying to fix the rest of it to how we actually do it." (Why not fix how we actually do it to what the ordinance says? Number 6 of Section 145.060 says "The budget shall be submitted to the Board of Aldermen at the regular meeting in September."  I don't see anything to say it has to be approved at that time.  However, the new proposed ordinance does have that language in there.  So when the mayor and city administrator imply we have to pass this ordinance because it says we have to adopt the budget at this time that is incorrect... The current ordinance does not have that requirement.)

Alderman Horn: "Well I'm new and when I was sworn in, I was sworn to uphold the ordinances of the city of Buffalo and I've made every effort to try to get to know these ordinances. I'm not an expert but I do believe that everyone else on this council took the same oath that I took. This is not the only ordinance we're not following. No offense Debby but you don't have the authority to propose an ordinance. (Once again see Section 110.250 for the procedure to introduce an ordinance.) 

There's a proper procedure in that one of the alderman are supposed to submit it to our city attorney and then it's supposed to be presented to the council. We're not doing these things correctly because we're not abiding by our city ordinances. We're not going to them and trying to figure out what they say. We're just doing whatever we want to do and I don't think that's right."

City Administrator: "There was no disrespect intended Kristie (Alderman Horn), I was doing things the way we've always done them." (We should be obeying the law.)

Alderman Rieschel: "Let me comment on this. If Donald Duck wants to propose an ordinance to this council he can do it. We'll look over that ordinance, and we'll vote on it. I guarantee the senate of the United States does not write our Federal laws, neither does the state. I was on the school board for six years. It was done pretty much the same way it's done. I think it's nitpicking to come in here, we're trying to conduct business. Debby (City Administrator) does a good job, she's done it a long time and it's absolutely ridiculous to come in here and question it. I'm not going to vote for that ordinance. I've written one ordinance this year and if I like Debby's ordinance, that's fine. As far as I'm concerned keep doing it exactly the way you're doing it. And I don't like your reference to my oath of office. I take it very very seriously and that's another example of nitpicking and you need to quit doing it."

Alderman Horn: "I'm not trying to nitpick. I just, as an average citizen, I am a citizen in the city of Buffalo and I care about the integrity of everyone sitting up here. I think we should all take this more seriously."

Mayor Mead: "Miss Horn and I'll ask you, you stated that our ordinances require our alderman to prepare the budget correct?"

Alderman Horn: "It does."

Mayor Mead: "And that our board has to approve it by the first regular meeting in September. Is that correct?"

Alderman Horn: "That's what it says."

Mayor Mead: "Have you done anything to prepare our budget? Do you have a budget ready prepared to present to the board for us to vote on this evening?"

Alderman Horn: "We're supposed to do that together and this is something that was just brought to my attention."

Mayor Mead: "Have you done anything?"

Alderman Horn: "Yes, I've attended every meeting and I've tried diligently to read the ordinances and understand them because I believe that this is what's supposed to be our guide. Not just what we think. There's laws theres a reason for laws. We should follow them." (I've also tried very hard to ask questions at meetings regarding the budget.  I've asked for help from professionals who are experienced in budgeting.  Everyone is as confused as I am by what's been presented.)

Mayor Mead: "Do you think it would be wise to tailor our laws to mirror what we're doing to what's efficient and what's been effective or do you have a budget to present for passage this evening?"

Alderman Horn: "That's not my responsibility. That's the councils responsibility. As a whole it is our responsibility."

Mayor Mead: "Have you done anything above and beyond what the other five alderman have done?"

Alderman Horn: "I'm not insinuating that I have. I am just stating and bringing it to the boards attention that we are not following the city ordinances."

Mayor Mead: "Ok. Again would it be out of line to propose and ordinance that would make it easier for us to get our budget passed?"

Alderman Horn: "It would but we need to follow the ordinances until such time as we change them. We can't do as we please and then change it to suit us that's wrong. We would be outraged if our Federal government were doing this. I am outraged I think this is not the way things should be done."

Mayor Mead: "Any other questions regarding administration? Any other comments by our administration?"

  Section 110.250 Procedure as to Ordinances, Resolutions, ETC.
All ordinances and resolutions shall be introduced to the Board of Aldermen in written form with the name of the Alderman introducing the same endorsed thereon.  All proposed ordinances shall be prepared by the City Attorney or bear his/her certification that they are in correct form.  A copy thereof shall be sent to each member of the Board of Aldermen in advance of the meeting, to which copy shall be attached a brief resume of the bill together with the reasons for introduction thereof (as prepared by the proponent thereof), and if any amendment of an existing ordinance is proposed, the nature of the change sought to be made.  Failure to follow the procedure shall not invalidate any ordinance or resolution adopted by the Board of Alderman.

Article III.  Penalties
Section 100.200: General Penalty
A) Whenever in this Code or other ordinance of the city, or in any rule, regulation, notice or order promulgated by any officer or agency of the City under authority duly vested in him/her or it, any act is prohibited or is declared to be unlawful or an offense or the doing of any act is required or the failure to do any act is declared to be unlawful or an offense, and no specific penalty is provided for the violation of any such provision of this code or any such ordinance, rule, regulation, notice or order, the violator shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500.00) or by imprisonment in the City or County Jail not exceeding ninety (90) days, or by both such fine and punishment; provided that in any case wherein the City and State have a penalty for the same offense, the statutory penalty shall apply, except that imprisonments, when made under city ordinances, may be in the city prison or workhouse, instead of the county jail.

B) Every Day a Violation.  Every day any violation of this code or any other ordinance or any such rule, regulation, notice or order shall continue shall constitute a separate offense.

C) Responsibility.  Whenever any act is prohibited by this code, by an amendment thereof, or by any rule or regulation adopted thereunder, such prohibition shall extend to and include the causing, securing, aiding, or abetting of another person to do said act.  Whenever any act is prohibited by this code, an attempt to do the act is likewise prohibited.

Section 110.060 Mayor Duties
Power to Enforce Laws
The Mayor shall be active and vigilant in enforcing all laws and this code or other ordinances for the government of the city, and he/she shall cause all subordinate officers to be dealt with promptly for any neglect or violation of duty; and he/she is hereby authorized to call on every male inhabitant of the city over eighteen (18) years of age and under fifty (50) to aid in enforcing the laws.

Section 115.040 Officers Oath Bond
Every Officer of the City and his/her assistants, and every Alderman, before entering upon the duties of his/her office, shall take and subscribe to an oath or affirmation before some court of record in the county, or the City Clerk, that he/she possesses all the qualifications prescribed for his/her office by law; that he/she will support the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Missouri, the provisions of all laws of this State, and the ordinances of the City, and faithfully demean himself/herself while in office; which official oath or affirmation shall be filed with the City Clerk.  Every officer of the corporation, when required by law or ordinance, shall, within fifteen (15) days after his/her appointment or election, and before entering upon the discharge of the duties of his/her office, give bond to the city in such sum and with such sureties as may be designated by ordinance, conditioned upon the faithful performance of his/her duty, and that he/she will pay over all monies belonging to the city, as provided by law, that may come into his/her hands.  If any person elected or appointed to any office shall fail to take and subscribe such oath or affirmation, or to give bond as herein required, his/her office shall be deemed vacant.  For any breach of condition of any such bond, suit may be instituted thereon by the City, or by any person in the name of the City to the use of such person.

Section 135.010 Violations Heard and Determined
Pursuant to section 479.040., 1986, violations of municipal ordinances shall be heard and determined by the Associate Circuit Judge of Dallas County, Missouri.

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