Judges Reimburses Byrnes Mill for Travel

12 Feb

As I reported in November, Byrnes Mill and Hillsboro are the two cities in Jefferson County with the most active municipal courts. They are 1st and 2nd in both fines per person and cases per person. Both cities share the same municipal judge, Colby Smith-Hynes.

When Smith-Hynes travels to the Missouri Municipal and Associate Circuit Judges Association (MMACJA) conference at Lake of the Ozarks each year, the two cities share the travel expenses. This blog has learned, via Sunshine requests to both cities, that, upon attending the 2012-2014 Missouri Municipal and Associate Circuit Judges Association (MMACJA) conferences at Lake of the Ozarks, Smith-Hynes submitted mileage expenses to both cities. By agreement, Hillsboro is supposed to pay this particular expense, and the city did so for each of these years. The improper mileage requests submitted to Byrnes Mill were as follows:

  • 2012: $106.93 (289 miles x $0.37/mile)
  • 2013: $142.82 (386 miles x $0.37/mile)
  • 2014: $137.50 (327.4 miles x $0.42/mile)
  • Total: $387.25

A Google Maps search indicates that it is 296 miles round-trip from Byrnes Mill to Lake Ozark. I can’t explain the varying distances shown above.

According to Byrnes Mill, Smith-Hynes will be reimbursing the city. Conference expenses for hotel, per diem, and registration were all paid properly (not double paid), according to records from the cities.

According to Smith-Hynes, who was reached via email, “This should not have happened and I am to blame for not catching it.” He calls it a “clear oversight” on his part. Personally, I have some trouble seeing how one can inadvertently file two separate mileage reimbursement requests, since that would mean calculating two different mileages and submitting two separate forms at roughly the same time. But that’s the explanation. I also note that this improper reimbursement did not occur in the five years prior to 2012 that Smith-Hynes attended the conference as judge of the two cities.

This act of double-dipping, inadvertent or not, comes from a man who has faced financial problems, according to state and federal court records (found on Casenet and Pacer, respectively). Smith-Hynes is paid $20,000 per year by Byrnes Mill, and I don’t know how much Hillsboro pays him. He also has a law firm.

While I recognize that this is not a great amount of money, I hope this episode will serve as a lesson for local governments to keep a closer eye on reimbursements, especially when sharing an employee with another jurisdiction. This also adds further evidence that a state audit of Byrnes Mill is in order.

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4 Responses to “Judges Reimburses Byrnes Mill for Travel”

  1. Anonymous February 13, 2015 at 7:12 am #

    I imagine we’d be charged with stealing by deceit. But I guess since he’s a judge, he’s above the law.

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  2. Anonymous February 13, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

    So glad Jeffco Pen and Knife investigates this county. Over the years seems like Jeffco govt has more than it’s fair share of greed, corruption, violations of rights and liberties, unjustified police violence, could go on and on. Yet unlike St. Louis Co. or St. Louis City – virtually no money goes back into the public interest fund such as parks and skateparks for our children and teenagers, land conservation, etc.. But yet we have every darn rehab group and organization, private probation, prisons for profit and new squad cars in every municipality like every two years seems. BYRNES MILL NEEDS TO BE TAKEN OVER BY JEFFCO!!! EVERYONE KNOWS IT EVERYONE WANTS IT. Businesses suffer from High Ridge to House Springs because of Byrnes Mill over vigilance in traffic tickets and ridiculous charges. People don’t want to go down that way unless they have to. They right so many tickets and violations for the few square miles they have, their traffic court is always overfilled and the poor working class must come back if they don’t wait in line a couple hours before start time. But the new squad cars look nice and grey don’t they!

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  3. Anonymous February 13, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

    FYI Law Firm link is no longer valid. Says domain no longer.

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    • JC Penknife February 13, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

      Interesting. It worked a couple of days ago. I changed the link to a cached version of the site.

      Like

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