A Byrnesville Bill?

23 Feb

Update: This bill went nowhere during the 2013 legislative session.

Jefferson County state representatives Paul Wieland, Elaine Gannon, and Jeff Roorda (a bipartisan group) are sponsoring House Bill 407, which states in part:

In any county with a charter form of government and with more than two hundred thousand but fewer than three hundred fifty thousand inhabitants [ed. – aka Jefferson County], if any petition to incorporate a proposed area under this section fails to be adopted, no petition to incorporate such area shall be resubmitted to the governing body of the county during the three years immediately following the disapproval of such incorporation.

I suspect this bill is in response to the group of 13 people trying to create the village of Old Town Byrnesville (here’s their 2011 petition). This group, the entire population of the proposed hamlet, has tried and failed three times, including in 2011 and 2012, to win incorporation. It failed in 2011 by a 4-2 vote and a 6-1 vote in 2012. The group has also lost in court.

The group wants to preserve the area’s history, which includes a log cabin believed to have been built in the 1830s and the Byrnesville grist mill, parts of which date to the same era. The group seems to be outnumbered by opponents:

Linda Schroeder, who owns Schroeder Sod Farm with her husband Gil and lives on the property about half a mile from the proposed village’s border, is a leading dissenter.

She said about 200 people oppose the village’s formation, mostly because they don’t want eventually to be annexed by the village. She said that opens the possibility of higher taxes to contract with the county for services they already receive, she said.

These sound like valid arguments to me. As we are seeing in many small villages, and in cities as large as Pevely, it costs a lot of money per person when a small group of people have to pay the costs of government. And these are just basic costs like sewer and police, never mind the boondoggles that government inevitably gets involved in. I agree that 13 people does not a viable village make. This bill, if passed, will force prospective Byrnesvillians to leave the county council alone for a few years before making another incorporation attempt.

If you care about this issue enough to travel to Jefferson City, or to make some calls/send some e-mails, here is hearing info for this bill:

Local Government Committee, Date: 2/25/2013 Time: 1:00PM Location: House Hearing Room 5

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