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Holding a city to its promise

Most of us want to respect the government, especially local government. We expect local government to keep its promises.

But the law relating to cities, towns and villages (which are all lumped together in the category “municipal corporations” or “municipalities”) cuts them some slack. A city council, board of aldermen or village board can adopt an ordinance and lawfully repeal it later. Often voters elect new representatives because they promise to vote to change or repeal a previous ordinance.

The adoption of ordinances is how the city’s governing body exercises its legislative powers. A city should have the ability to correct mistakes or adapt to changing conditions for the benefit of the public.

But a city should be held to its agreement, said Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District in its July 21, 2009 opinion in Kindred v. City of Smithville, even though 40 years had passed since the agreement was made and lots of things had changed. Read the rest of this entry

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