X. Collector Powers and Duties

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

There are a number of options regarding the city collector. There should be an ordinance setting forth whether the position is elective or appointive, whether the term is two or four years, whether the collector and marshal posts are combined and compensation rates.

Many smaller fourth-class cities combine clerk and collector, although this is not specifically allowed by law and may be questionable. The clerk extends taxes and charges the collector with collecting them. When the position is combined, it's important that the collector not report to himself. Cities with a combined position turn over collection to the treasurer.

Pay of the collector

Most cities fix a percentage of collections as compensation for the collector. The statutes do not provide a percentage, and there is a great deal of variation. The percentage should be a fair reflection of the collector's time and the responsibility of being personally responsible for all due taxes. However, the amount should not be sizeable enough that it causes resentment or problems among the unpaid or barely paid aldermen.

An option

Statutes do provide that, in all except charter counties, the city may contract to have city taxes included in the bill sent to residents by the county (50.332). The county, the city and the county collector must all agree to this option, which allows the city to avoid creating the position of collector.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this arrangement. Inevitably, including city taxes on the county bill that includes school taxes and all other taxes will increase collection percentages — usually from the low-70s to mid-90s in percentage paid. But the absence of a collector may result in the city clerk taking on more duties such as selling merchant's licenses.

Annual settlement

A date should be set by ordinance for annual final settlement. At this time, the collector turns over all taxes collected. This amount, when the delinquent list also provided is added, should equal the amount that the collector was originally charged. The collector and board of aldermen should make a strong effort should to keep delinquent lists as short as possible. Letting some slide is not fair to those who pay.