Rules for Missouri Fourth-Class Cities
Parenthetical numbers in the text refer to sections of the current Revised Statutes of Missouri, abbreviated as RSMo.
Custodian of funds
The city treasurer, selected by the board or elected if an ordinance so provides, becomes custodian of all city funds. The primary task is careful accounting of revenues and expenditures, and careful allocating of each to the proper fund. The number of different funds necessary depends on the complexity of the city's operations, but a minimum of two funds are essential: a street fund and a general fund. Many smaller cities will need only these two funds.
The street fund segregates state gasoline tax and vehicle revenue sharing proceeds, which are restricted as to their use. County Aid Road Trust (CART) money is allocated in monthly checks based solely on the official census population. These funds may only be used to "construct, reconstruct, maintain, repair, police, light, sign and clean" city streets. Only expenses that can be connected to one of these eight purposes are allowed (Const., Article IV, Section 30(a)).
Most other expenses of the city and those that do not fit into other funds fall under general revenue. All expenses that are not street-related can be drawn from this fund.
Should the city incur long-term indebtedness, a separate fund is required to segregate revenues to pay bonds and interest. These funds are collected and earmarked for payments as they become due; they cannot be used for other purposes. The levy amount is calculated anew each year, according to the city's assessed valuation. In addition to the payment(s) due during the budget year, an additional one year of future payments may be reserved. This is the upper limit on these funds.
While the board may wish to establish other funds for specific purposes or to fund a particular operation, such as a park or library fund, exercise care to avoid creating too many funds. Fewer funds make the treasurer's job easier and results in an easy-to-understand semi-annual financial report for citizens.
The city treasurer has the power to prepare finance reports and sign checks (this is sometimes handled by a finance director). As a general practice, two signatures are required on checks to protect against theft. The mayor often serves as the second signatory.
Two different locations in the Missouri statutes require that the city file a financial statement. Chapter 79.160 requires that the board of aldermen "…spread upon their records a full and detail account…" of the city's financial activity over the last six months. The board of aldermen decides on a six-month cycle. For example, it may be in January and July or March and September so long as It's every six months. The statement must be published in a city newspaper. Chapter 79.165 provides that if the financial statement is not published as required, the treasurer shall not pay out any money until the statement is published. The treasurer who does so is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
Chapter 105.145 has a different set of requirements. These requirements are for all tax-levying subdivisions except counties and school districts. County and school districts have their own requirements. The requirements specify an annual financial report in "such summary form as the state auditor shall prescribe." A copy of this statement must be filed with the Office of State Auditor within four months of the end of the fiscal year. Penalty for failure to file is suspension of compensation and expense reimbursement for the board of aldermen until the statement is filed. Political subdivisions that do not file are listed under the local government section of the state auditor's website at www.auditor.mo.gov/.
The Office of State Auditor provides on the website an electronic form (Microsoft Excel) for completing this financial statement. A paper copy of the form is at the end of this guide.