October 28, 2010
Jefferson City, Mo. - Attorney General Chris Koster said today that the Hancock Amendment does not allow cities to tack taxes onto "user fees" to avoid the Hancock Amendment's requirement of a public vote.
Koster said his office filed a brief with that opinion on behalf of the offices of the Attorney General and the State Auditor. State Auditor Susan Montee has released a number of audit reports that identified cities that she found collected excess utility charges that were then transferred to the general revenue of the cities for other uses.
"The Hancock Amendment is clear that cities cannot avoid a vote to raise taxes for other city services simply by increasing the user fees for services such as city utilities," Koster said. "I commend Auditor Montee for identifying this unfair avoidance of the Hancock Amendment. The law says Missouri taxpayers have the right to say when they want their taxes increased and increasing user fees for that purpose clearly is in breach of the law.
The brief was filed in a case before the Missouri Supreme Court.