Jan. 9, 2020
Jan. 9, 2020
The Gasconade County Commission met with Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel at the Courthouse beginning with Pledge of Allegiance.
Commissioner Jerry Lairmore made a motion to approve prior commission minutes dated Jan. 7, 2020 and Jan. 2, 2020. Commissioner Jim Holland seconded the motion. The motion passed by vote:
Jerry Lairmore (Yes),
Jim Holland (Yes),
Larry Miskel (Yes).
ROAD CONCERNS AND COMPLAINTS
Commissioner Lairmore said the strong winds brought some trees down on county roads and he helped get them removed this morning; Commissioner Holland had reported some minor issues to the road department and they had been taken care of. Commissioner Lairmore also mentioned that the new Kenworth dump truck had been delivered to the road department and it was very nice looking piece of equipment and hopefully will be a good one; it’s the first time buying that brand.
Commission asked Clerk Lietzow for an update on Callabyte that was added to the agenda; she said the technicans had came yesterday to see where the fiber line needed to be brought in the building and then also looked where the second floor courtroom was located. She had given them some open dates in January when the court offices said they would not be using that courtroom and the work could be done.
Presiding Commissioner Miskel reported that he had an MRPC meeting this evening and a meeting at the Callaway Nuclear Power Plant tomorrow. Commissioner Lairmore said he had attended Owensville Chamber of Commerce and city meeting, BTAW meeting and Soil and Water meeting.
Treasurer Mike Feagan presented his monthly account balances and reviewed and also provided the required semi‑annual and annual reports due as of Dec. 31, 2019. In addition, he presented an up‑to‑date status on the Frene Creek road project donations and the Courthouse roof loan payoff at the end of December; he had already spoken to the bank and they are working on the loan re‑write beginning Jan. 1, 2020 for the unpaid balance.
When getting back to budget work, Clerk Lietzow provided Commission with a copy of the memo she passed out to elected officials asking for them to cut their 2020 expense requests back to 2019 actual numbers, or as close as possible. She had explained the current shortfall of over $160,000 prompting this memo and encourage any officials wanting to come into session to talk about the budget they were more than welcome. Mary Weston, Prosecuting Attorney and Therese O’Brien, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Shawn Schlottach, Collector, Pam Greunke, Circuit Clerk and Recorder of Deeds and Paul Schulte, Assessor came in for discussion. Prosecutor Weston started by introducing Assistant O’Brien to Commission who had not met her yet and then wanted to address the Commissions’ request for budget cuts as she felt they were too extreme, adding up to 45% of her entire office expense; she went line by line letting the Commission know the cuts she made, including not being able to take her staff to training, no longer submitting any mileage for travel for other court appearances, no longer charging a portion of the software that she uses in both her public office and her private practice, no money for requesting transcripts for any trials, of which she has five jury trials scheduled and lastly, zero dollars in the miscellaneous line. She went on to say she transferred some expense to the Administration Handling Cost fund, very reluctantly, as it no longer receives any revenue and will soon be completed depleted due to the fact that it was funded by bad check charges and there are hardly any checks actually written anymore. While she has been asked to make budget cuts before, she wonders what is being done to stop the decline in the financial condition of the county; she reads where other entities sales tax collections are up, but the county is down. The question is who can fix this problem and how can it be fixed; at this rate, if she goes over budget, she wonders what happens, which is a question most everyone in the room is also asking; since it doesn’t happen, no one really has an answer for it.
Commissioner Lairmore is anxious to hear any ideas or suggestions from any of those present as to how to increase the revenue flow into the county; he said every year the elected officials step up when asked to make budget cuts, and then most importantly, stay within that bare‑bones budget. He is asking all of them for any ideas on how to increase the revenue; all of them are well aware the usetax question has been put before voters six times and the law enforcement tax has been twice, all eight of those votes were unsuccessful. He said they too, as Commissioners’ have made the same cuts in their own budgets’ that is being asked of them. Clerk Lietzow also went back over the revenue projections and made increases where she felt comfortable and gave those to Treasurer Feagan for review. Collector Schlottach concurred with Prosecutor Weston’s comments and added that she too, has moved budget items to Tax Maintenance fund that she legally can move and has cut her bottom line as much as possible. She did predict an increase of $30,000 in her collections for 2020 and said her surplus for General Revenue this year was $56,711; she too, says something has to be done to generate more revenue.
Clerk Greunke also had made cuts to her budget, but wanted to talk about another issue that affects her budget and Sheriff John Romanus, and Prosecutor Weston to a small degree; the non‑emergency services contract that the county entered into with E911 board several years ago needs to be reviewed. She has never received an annual report showing the actual amount of services provided for the quarterly payment made by the county from the three budgets referenced. Commission just assumed those reports were being provided, and had no idea they were not and agrees that is not right; the annual obligation of over $42,000 is being sent without any documentation received. Also, Clerk Greunke questions what constitutes a non‑emergency service; Commissioner Lairmore called one of the E911 board members and was told the next meeting was Wednesday, Jan. 15, so they are booked on their agenda for 10 a.m. There was some more discussion about the MULES terminal that Sheriff Romanus wants to activate once the fiber lines are complete, and everyone agreed if this could be used for their needs during Courthouse open hours, then E911 would only be used for off‑hour needs which would cut the expense down considerably. There would be training expense for whomever would be using the county MULES, but there would still be savings.
Paul Schulte, Assessor had sat in on the meeting even though his budget was not subject to cuts due to having his own funding; he was glad he was here to know what was going on and he spoke too, about the possibility of personal property taxes being eliminated by the legislature, with no replacement, and would be another devastating blow to county finances. He mentioned just for information, that Moniteau County Assessor walked out of the job Jan. 1 as did all staff except one field worker; State Tax Commission contacted Assessor Schulte about whether his office staff would be able to help that county out since they too, use the Ulrich software program for assessment purposes and his girls were more than willing to do so.
The subject of city governments within the county transferring their municipal courts to the county associate division was discussed; the work load is significant, with no funding to go along with it; this is just one more state law changing that has had an adverse affect on county governments. All Commissioners’ thank the elected officials for working so well together and doing everything asked of them; unfortunately, the only thing left to cut would be services to the public which no one wants to happen.
Commission then moved on to try and find an additional $30,000‑40,000 in cuts; an option on the table to consider would be when re‑writing the roof loan this month, to extend it for one additional year. The current payment annually of over $100,000 is part of the strain on General Revenue; when checking with the bank, it would not be a problem with them in doing so, and would possibly save the county close to $30,000 annually, but extend the payments through 2023. Commission made a few more additional cuts, and agreed to use the loan re‑write option; they also agreed to keep the employee raises of three percent plus a nickel per hour for another year of service to the county.
Next they moved onto the Union Electric fund budget which will be their responsibility to complete without an EMD on staff; Clerk Lietzow had printed out a detail report of all 2019 expenses so they would know which are necessary year to year. Commissioner Holland wants to budget for the administrative transfer to General Revenue again, and also wants to make up for not being able to do so in 2019. Commission also reviewed seven applications received for the position of EMD and will make decision on interviews with hopes of having a new hire in place before month end. There was also some discussion about whether the EMD facebook page should be shut down due to the false information being released, but was decided to leave it as is, for the new director to take over administration soon.
Commission briefly reviewed the Courthouse Restoration Fund and decided with the donation of slightly over $10,000 in December, they would budget to spend that for painting of the first floor hallway as that has not been for many years.
Moving onto Road and Bridge budget, Commission has worked with road department on the specifics and went over line by line with Clerk Lietzow so she had all the details; they will also give 60 cent per hour plus five cents per hour longevity raises to all employees in the department, except for three new hires, who will get their probationary raises in June or July. The line item for asphalt is designated for maintenance of existing roads and nothing for new roads; the chip and seal line item is designated for both Holzschuh and Frene Creek roads. Equipment purchase will include a new road grader and bucket truck; capital improvements line item is for improvements to the shed. The BRO project started on Valentine Ford road will continue through 2020 with completion in 2021. There are four road projects to be done in 2020, two of which will be done in‑house and two will be bid out and those are on Shockley, Doll, Hafertafe and Trainer roads.
REPORT OF FEES
Commission received for file the monthly report of gross collections from Shawn Schlottach, Collector, for the month of December in the amount of $9,976,236.31 for real estate and personal property tax and $1,728,622.22 for railroad and utility tax.
REPORT OF FEES
Commission reviews report of fees for December 2019, from Pamela R. Greunke, Circuit Clerk and Recorder of Deeds for Divisions 1, 2 and 4 in the following amounts:
Rec Records Reten‑$2,411.32
Misc county fees‑$24.85
Dep. Sher. Sal. Suppl.‑$30.00
Inmate Security Fund‑$57.00
Delinquent Jail Board Bill‑$3,313.50
ABATEMENTS AND ADDITIONS
Commission approved abatements No. 2099 through No. 2108 and additions No. 8665 through No. 8697.
DELINQUENCY IN PAYMENT OF LOCAL SALES TAX
Commission received for file a notice of revocation of sales tax license due to delinquency in payment for Yvonnes Decor LLC, 109 E. Colorado Avenue, Bland, MO and at 4501 Baxter Road, Bland, MO.
Commissioner Jerry Lairmore made a motion to adjourn commission until Jan. 16, 2020. Commissioner Jim Holland seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned.