Yesterday, the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District affirmed the trial court’s judgement regarding the voter adopted amendment to the St. Charles County charter prohibiting the use of “red-light cameras or similar photograph devices or automated traffic enforcement systems” anywhere in St. Charles County.
Read the decision here!
In November 2014, St. Charles County presented the following proposition to the county voters:
“10.130. Automated Traffic Enforcement Systems. Notwithstanding any other provision of this St. Charles County Charter, red light cameras or similar photograph devices or automated traffic enforcement systems may not be used in enforcing traffic regulations adopted by St Charles County or by any municipality within St. Charles County that prohibit drivers from entering intersections when controlled by red traffic lights, and no such municipality within it in performing their functions of regulating traffic and imposes no additional costs that need to be financed.”?
The St. Charles County Election Authority certified the results of this November 2014 election with 72.6% votes of the votes cast in favor and 27.4% of the votes cast in opposition.
Unfortunately, St Charles County taxpayers incurred wasteful spending when two individual taxpayers, the fourth-class cities of St. Peters and Lake St. Louis and the constitutional charter city of O’Fallon (collectively “the Cities”), filed suit against St Charles County and the Director of Elections of St. Charles County.
St. Peters taxpayers were double-taxed to pay for this lawsuit, the taxes they paid to the city and the taxes they paid to the County were used in this lawsuit. Two voters/taxpayers, Carl Bearden and Dan Rakers intervened on behalf of the voters and taxpayers of St Charles County.
Today’s ruling, clearly spells out that St. Charles County voters/taxpayers are in charge of their government and not the government in charge of the voters/taxpayers:
“Did St. Charles County voters lawfully and effectively amend their county charter to prohibit red-lights cameras, even within the County’s incorporated municipalities? Yes, they did.
We hold that the county charter amendment is a valid exercise of St. Charles County’s broad authority to regulated municipal services and functions under Missouri Constitution article VI, section 18(c), and does not contravene a statewide policy; that the amendment does not violate the county charter; and that the amendment does not invade the province of the judiciary. Furthermore, the proposition appearing on the ballot contained no irregularities of sufficient magnitude to cast doubt on the validity of the election. Consequently, we affirm the trial court’s judgement.”
“I’m pleased that the courts have once again affirmed one of our basic founding principles – that the people have a right to govern themselves. The charter amendment process represents an important check that citizens have against local governments that abuse their power. Ultimately, we get to decide what powers our government has, and St. Charles County residents overwhelmingly declared that they don’t want the government to have the power to enforce traffic laws with camera systems.” commented Dan Rakers.
Carl Bearden, Executive Director, United for Missouri, adds: “When the people of St Charles County adopted the County Charter it was to establish their authority for self-governance. The red-light camera amendment is one of the best examples of the exercising of home rule authority by the people you can find. We the people won.”