A group of proposals including underground utilities for the 76 Project from Presley’s Theater to the Branson Ferris Wheel property failed to pass on its final vote this week, even though a majority of the aldermen present voted in favor.

At the Sept. 24 Board of Aldermen meeting, all three bills discussed regarding the 76 Project failed, with a vote of three votes in favor, and two against. Aldermen Larry Milton and Rick Castillon voted against the bills and Alderman Kevin McConnell, who had also voted against the bills on their initial reading, was absent from the meeting.

“I’m more convinced today than I was two weeks ago that this is financially irresponsible for the city to spend this amount of money at this time,” said Alderman Milton. “Again, I fully support the project, I think our city needs it; it’s just, at what expense?”

The bills were 1) amending the adopted 2019 budget to adjust monies for the Tourism and Capital Projects Funds ($1.5M) 2) an agreement between CenturyLink Communications, LLC and the city of Branson for relocation costs and 3) a special construction proposal with CenturyLink Communication, LLC and the city of Branson relating to engineering design costs.

At the last meeting, Sept. 12, the same bills were discussed and passed on their first reading because Mayor Edd Akers broke the 3-3 tie vote. Akers did not get a chance to provide the winning vote this time, however, because there was no tie to break. 

And since the bills did not have the required four votes, they failed.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that is the last we’ll see of these bills.

“Additionally, just because a bill fails to become an ordinance, does not mean it cannot be brought before the board in the same or similar fashion as a new bill,” said City Attorney Chris Lebeck. “There is no legal limitation on bringing a failed bill back before the board as a new agenda item for consideration.”

Due to confusion on whether the vote needed a majority vote of those present or a majority vote of those elected, a search started to find the answer.

In an email, City Attorney Chris Lebeck helped explain. According to Lebeck, the rule reads, “the procedure to enact ordinances in a fourth-class city is governed by state statute which states ‘[n]o ordinance shall be passed except by bill, and no bill shall become an ordinance unless on its final passage a majority of the members elected to the board shall vote for it, and the ayes and nays be entered on the journal.’ § 79.130, RSMo.

“Put most simply, in order for a bill to become an ordinance in the City of Branson it needs a minimum of four ‘yes’ votes upon the final reading.

“In the instance where there is a tie as to the passage of an ordinance, the mayor has the authority to cast a tie-breaking vote,” said Lebeck. “There are two actions that cannot be approved by just a mere majority of a quorum of the Board of a fourth class city. 

“1) the passage of ordinances, § 79.130, RSMo; and (2) the removal of officers, § 79.240, RSMo. As case law in Missouri has instructed us, including of the term “elected” in the statute was for a specific reason, which is to raise the minimum number of affirmative votes which must be cast before an ordinance is passed or an officer is removed from a majority of a quorum of aldermen to a majority of the entire elected board of aldermen.”

For more information regarding the bills and more, visit the ‘Board of Aldermen’ link on cityofbranson.org.

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