- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

NORTHWOODS, Mo. (AP) - Several St. Louis County cities worry how they’ll plug a monetary hole if a bill reducing how much they can use from municipal court revenues becomes state law.

The bill would decrease what St. Louis County municipalities’ ability to raise in traffic fines from 30 percent of the general operating revenue to 12.5 percent, while the rest of the state would have a 20 percent cap, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1JH9lC1 ) reported.

Communities like Northwoods, which derives about 26 percent of its general fund revenue from court fines and fees, searching for other ways to raise money for services. Charging for trash pickup would generate about $140,000 a year, barely a third of the $400,000 it expects to lose in annual revenue, according to Mayor Rev. Everett Thomas. He said the city likely might have to lay off workers even if they start charging for trash collection, which has been free.

An amendment to the bill added by House Speaker John Diehl also calls for municipalities within three years of the proposed law going into effect to have an annual audit, insurance, a cash management and accounting system and written policies on police use of force and crime data collection. Diehl said the provisions are the basics of what citizens should expect from their government.

Those requirements pose a challenge for some municipalities like Uplands Park, which for three years existed without a formal budget. Former village chairman Henry Iwenofu said fulfilling those standards requires resources and money that small municipalities don’t have.

The standards also would require that, within six years, police departments in the county gain accreditation through either the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies or the Missouri Police Chiefs Association.

Retired St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch said this could be the biggest hurdle for some. He assesses departments across the country for the commission and currently, 45 of the 60 police departments in St. Louis County are unaccredited.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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