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Rules for Missouri Townships

Note

Parenthetical numbers in the text refer to sections of the current Revised Statutes of Missouri, abbreviated as RSMo.

II. Officials

Elections

Township elections are held on municipal election day (the first Tuesday after the first Monday in April) and are conducted by the county election authority. Voters elect a township clerk, a trustee ex-officio treasurer and two board members for two year terms (65.110, 65.190, 65.290). The trustee ex officio treasurer and the two board members make up the township board of directors (65.290).

All township books, papers, records and property must be turned over to new township officials when they take office (65.510).

Officer eligibility

To hold township office, each official must live in the township, be a registered voter in the township and remain a resident of the township during the term of office (65.150).

Effective in 2005, the Revised Statutes of Missouri prohibit any person guilty of a federal felony or misdemeanor from being eligible for election to public office (115.348). Anyone convicted of a state felony was disqualified as a candidate for elective public office in 2006 (115.350). That same year, the legislature also enacted the requirement that those who owe any tax, or are past or present corporate officers of any fee office that owes taxes to the state, are disqualified from participation as a candidate in an election (115.342).

Oath of office

Article VII Public Officers Section 11, RSMo. Aug. 28, 2006. Before taking office, all civil and military officers in this state shall take and subscribe an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States and of this state, and to demean themselves faithfully in office. (Source: Const. of 1875, Art. XIV, § 6.) In the Governmental Services Newsletter, March, 2003, in "Recent Questions to Governmental Services with Answers" John Ballard confirms that all public officials must take the oath before taking office. He provides an example of such an oath: "I ____________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will uphold the Constitution of the United States, of this state, and demean myself faithfully in office."

Oath of office

Officials must be sworn in before taking office. How soon this is done is a decision for the township board. Outgoing officials retain their authority until the incoming officers are sworn in. The township clerk, county clerk or circuit judge can administer the oath (65.160). A certificate of acceptance of office must be signed by the newly elected official and filed with the township clerk (65.170). A person elected or appointed who refuses to serve is subject to a $5 fine. If a person refuses to take the oath, the fine is $100.

Term completion and perpetuity

Township officials are elected for two-year terms. However, the township itself has "perpetual existence." In practice, this means that terms of officials continue until successors are elected or appointed and qualified. Expiration of a term does not relieve the official until a replacement is in place (Article VII, Section 12, Missouri Constitution). Resignations are permitted, but for a resignation to be accepted, a quorum is required (see below). Until the trustee has someone to give the checkbook to, the trustee keeps it, even if the term is finished.

Vacancies

When a vacancy occurs in a township office because no one has been elected, the elected person has failed to qualify or has died or relocated, or for any other reason, the township board recommends a replacement to the county commission. The county commission appoints the official and the appointee serves the balance of the term (65.200). Persons appointed receive a warrant of appointment similar to the certificate of election that those elected to the board receive. The warrant is filed with the township clerk and a copy is given to the county clerk (65.210).

To resign from a township office requires two essential steps. First, there must be a written, dated and signed offer to resign by the official. Second, there must be acceptance by a quorum. At least two of the three township board members must vote to accept the offer to resign (65.220). Resigning does not relieve the official of responsibility until the board accepts the resignation. This is how perpetual existence is maintained. Should more than one resignation threaten the quorum, the board must appoint one replacement before it accepts more resignations.

A statutory change made in 2005 specifies that a township officer may be removed from the township board by a majority vote of the other board members for failing to attend two or more consecutive board meetings (65.183). The replacement is appointed following the above procedures.

Compensation and fees

The base compensation for the clerk, trustee and board members is up to $50 for the first meeting each month and up to $20 for additional meetings during the month (65.230). In addition to meeting fees, the trustee receives 2 percent of the first $50,000 handled, up to $1,000 total, and 1 percent of all funds beyond $50,000. An older authorization for paperwork fees paid to the clerk has been repealed.

Township officials may receive an hourly wage set by the township board for labor performed for the benefit of the township. The rate may not exceed the prevailing local wage (see 290.262 for prevailing wage information). Such labor does not include pay for attending meetings nor pay for the treasurer's performance of the duties of the office (65.230). However, the total amounts for wages are limited to $500 per instance and $1,500 total for the year (see Section XIV. Conflict of Interest).

 

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