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Political subdivisions must continuously meet population requirements for applicable statutes, absen

The Missouri Court of Appeals, In the Matter of the Petition of Missouri-American Water Company for Approval To Change Its Infrastructure System Replacement Surcharge (ISRS) v. Office of Public Counsel, No. WD78792 (Mo. App. Mar. 8, 2016), recently held that a statute no longer applies once the population of a political subdivision drops under the minimum required for original application of that statute. The court reversed Missouri-American Water Company’s (“MAWC’s”) petition for an increase in customer surcharges, because the petition was available only to “water corporation[s] providing water service in a county…with more than one million inhabitants,” and St. Louis County, where MAWC operates, had fallen to less than one million inhabitants. See Section 393.1003.1 RSMo. Missouri Courts rely only on the ten-year United States Census for population determinations, which showed St. Louis County to be below one million. The Court rejected the argument that Section 393.1003.1 RSMo. acted as a grandfathering clause despite a drop in population, citing other statutes which clearly referred to a “grandfather” clause when this was intended. Without a grandfathering provision, the County’s drop in population meant that the statute was no longer applicable. As the Court itself acknowledged, “this ruling has wide reaching” consequences. The legislature has already introduced two bills attempting to solve this problem, HB 2258 and SB 949. In the meantime, cities relying on statutes with population requirements should evaluate whether those statutes still apply.

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