Last year, Better Together released a Transparency Report on its efforts to obtain public information from the 115 local governments in the St. Louis City and County region.
Today, as we look to update key figures from our previous studies, Better Together issued a request for information under the Missouri Sunshine Law (Chapter 610 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri) to 54 municipalities in St. Louis County for the following:
- A line item budget for the current or most recent fiscal year
- The annual financial report for the fiscal year ending in 2015 for your municipality
- The annual financial report for the fiscal year ending in 2016 for your municipality, if available
- Copies of all city council or board minutes of municipal meetings held from June through December 2016 or the most recent quarter available
These basic materials are fundamental to the operation of any municipality. In fact, 36 municipalities as well as the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County already provide this information to their residents online in an easily accessible, transparent format, at no cost.
For the 54 municipalities that neglect to make these basic documents available to their residents online, a request for information under the Missouri Sunshine Law is necessary.
The request is being sent via certified mail through the United States Postal Service with a tracking code applied to each individual request to ensure proper delivery.
Per Missouri law, upon receipt a public body has 72 hours to acknowledge the request and provide an estimated timeline and cost for fulfillment. Since this request is straightforward and asks only for documents essential for any municipality, Better Together expects a short duration and minimal cost for fulfillment.
To be transparent about our process for obtaining these basic documents, Better Together has created an online spreadsheet where St. Louisans can track the progress of each municipality’s response to the request including time for response and fulfillment as well as any costs associated with providing these public documents.
Each day as responses are received and requests are fulfilled, Better Together staff will update this document detailing the progress of each municipality. Likewise, each day we will post to Twitter (@BTstl) the municipalities that have acknowledged or fulfilled our request.
It is our sincere hope that each municipality will comply with the Missouri Sunshine Law in a timely manner and work toward improvement by making these basic, fundamental documents regarding municipal operations easily accessible to their residents.
CORRECTION: Numbers in this post have been updated to reflect records pertaining the Better Together’s request could be found online for the governing bodies of Grantwood Village, Saint Ann, Shrewsbury, and Wildwood.