|Missouri cities will face several critical challenges in the New Year that need attention from citizens and legislators for communities to grow and offer a stronger quality of life.
The National League of Cities recently announced 10 critical imperatives facing U.S. cities. Several issues discussed resonate strongly in Missouri. Below are three of the top challenges Missouri cities face in the New Year:
- Deteriorating Infrastructure: Inadequate and deteriorating local water, sewer, and transportation facilities jeopardize the viability of future economic growth and threaten the quality of life for Missouri residents. In order to attract and retain businesses and jobs in Missouri, cities need to offer safe, effective and reliable water, sewer and transportation systems.
- Internet Sales Loophole: Many online retailers can avoid charging sales tax, giving them a distinct competitive advantage over local retailers in Missouri communities. This is especially highlighted by a recent comScore report showing 2013’s Cyber Monday, a traditional online holiday shopping day, as the strongest online spending day in history.
“Consumers may turn to online shopping for a variety of reasons, but the playing field needs to be level for local businesses to stay competitive and maintain jobs in Missouri cities,” said Kansas City Councilmember and MML President Jan Marcason.
The Marketplace Fairness Act is pending in the U.S. Congress to level this playing field and ensure online retailers are collecting and distributing the local sales tax to cities. MML encourages the swift passage of this act to protect Missouri cities and strengthen local economies.
- Unfunded Mandates: Inflexible standards regarding environmental criteria are financially crippling to cities. One pressing issue involves new criteria for ammonia set by the Environmental Protection Agency in August 2013. Nearly all discharging domestic wastewater treatment facilities (cities, subdivisions, mobile home parks, etc.), as well as certain industrial and storm water dischargers, will be affected by this change in the regulations. The Missouri Public Utility Alliance has estimated the cost to Missouri municipalities to comply with these new standards will reach into the billions of dollars. These unfunded mandates are a regulatory burden for Missouri communities.
MML urges state and federal leaders to fund existing and new mandates.
As NLC leaders stated in a press conference announcing the report, “The 10 Critical Imperatives Facing Cities in 2014,” the nation is stronger when cities are strong. It is more important than ever to take a look at how communities can solve challenges at a local level. The issues are not insurmountable when citizens pull together, form partnerships and create a working solution."
Cities “are where government is closest to the people and where real change can happen,” said City of Joplin Mayor Melodee Colbert Kean. Colbert Kean serves as the second vice president of the NLC.
The Missouri Municipal League provides a united voice for municipalities across Missouri. Founded in 1934, MML now serves more than 675 municipalities with training, resources and legislative advocacy for local government success.