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5-17-17

Ordinances may not
have been properly
approved by city

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

Ordinances from the past two years are under review at Parkville because they may not yet be fully approved.

On Tuesday the board of aldermen in Parkville approved a resolution to change their rules of order.

Many cities use the consent agenda section of a meeting to approve regular business of the city, which would not require an individual vote to accept. Some regular items include accepting reports from city departments or approving liquor license applications. Any items listed in the consent agenda are not available for comment by members of the public or board, but before approval any board member may request an item be removed from the consent agenda to have discussion.

According to a staff report by Melissa McChesney, city clerk, the board of aldermen approved new rules of order for the city in August 2015. Those rules changed the way the city approves ordinances.

Previously each ordinance was read out loud by the title twice during a meeting to ensure it was properly recorded into the minutes, as required by Missouri Revised Statute 79.130. The statute requires “every proposed ordinance shall be introduced to the board of aldermen in writing and shall be read by title or in full two times prior to passage.”

According to a search of previous Parkville agendas conducted by The Landmark, the first ordinance to have the second reading approved during the consent agenda section was in September 2015.

The changes to the rules of order came about after a work session held in June of 2015. According to the minutes of the meeting, Jim Werner, alderman, had questioned whether the first and second readings of ordinances could be streamlined to save time with a single reading of the ordinance. Nan Johnston, mayor, then stated she had received comments from some citizens criticizing the city for holding both readings of ordinances on the same night and she suggested separating the two readings to allow for additional public comment.

The city attorney at the time, Steve Chinn, was not present for the work session, according to the minutes, but was present at the regular board meeting held after the work session. According to the minutes, Chinn was also not present at the August meeting when the rules of order were approved.

The packets from the August 2015 meeting are no longer available on Parkville's website and so it is unclear whether the rules of order were reviewed by Chinn before approval.

Chris Williams, current city attorney, said he had noticed the city was approving the second reading during the consent agenda and had contacted McChesney to make sure the second reading was being done correctly.

According to the staff report from McChesney, city staff is reviewing previous ordinances to determine whether the board may have to conduct the second reading of those ordinances during an open meeting to allow them to be legal.

Williams said some of the ordinances might not need to have a second reading done again because the project or action was already completed.

According to the minutes, since August 2015 the city has approved numerous changes to sections of the municipal codes pertaining to sections covering fireworks, sewer rates, business licenses, building codes, zoning codes, and traffic codes.

Williams was hired by the city to become the new city attorney in December 2016.

The resolution on Tuesday to change the rules of order was approved during the city's consent agenda.