County government switches to
Osage County commissioners opened bids from two local banks on Tuesday, June 8. This bid covers county government checking accounts, passbook …
County government switches to
Osage County commissioners opened bids from two local banks on Tuesday, June 8. This bid covers county government checking accounts, passbook savings, and certificates of deposit. The process occurs every four years. Bids came from Legends Bank of Linn, the current accounts holder, and challenger Mid America Bank in Linn.
After review, commissioners voted unanimously to move the county’s banking to Mid America Bank. After putting a pencil to it, Osage County Eastern District Commissioner John Trenshaw estimated the move to be worth “$12,000 to $13,000 per year.”
He assumes that controlling Federal Reserve rates will remain static or rise. Should they unexpectedly fall, the numbers could reverse. Legends’ strategy provided more protection against falling rates. Mid America’s offer hedged against rising interest while being advantageous to steady rates.
The measure will require a lot of work for a lot of people in county government and at Mid America Bank. “We’ll have all hands on deck,” said Mid America Loan Officer Mark Baker.
“A lot of accounts will have to be changed,” Osage County Treasurer Tim Neuner added.
“We want to thank Legends Bank and Mid America Bank for submitting bids,” Osage County Presiding Commissioner Darryl Griffin said.
ROAD AND BRIDGE
Osage County Road and Bridge Foreman Ron Kempker had the commissioners sign a card of appreciation to Howard Laughlin, who has been working with the department for 26 years. He also had one for Steve Voyles, who has been with the crew for 29 years.
Commissioners hope recent pay scale measures produce similar future retention of good operators. Meanwhile, the department remains officially down two full-time employees. “We’ve been moving the trucks as much as possible with the manpower we have,” said Kempker, who is now running help wanted ads with the new pay scale.
Osage County Western District Commissioner Larry Kliethermes asked Kempker about progress on asphalt road repair bids. Kempker has sent many inquiries but isn’t getting a lot of answers.
“I may have to drive there in person to get some attention,” said Kempker.
He wants to combine some Osage County repair projects with work being done in eastern Cole County and Jefferson City. Several contractors have expressed interest in bidding such a combination but Kempker isn’t getting any final direction.
Kliethermes and Griffin are anxious to get some final word. “We’ve got to get our name on the list,” said Griffin.
“I’ll push forward on that real hard,” assured Kempker.
He has received an estimate from one company that would like to chip and seal some of the county’s asphalt roads. They would use 3/8-inch chipped rock. They would store material at the Road and Bridge yard, saving the county money, keeping the cost of transportation down. Two more vendors should be offering ideas as well.
“How long will this chip and seal last,” asked Trenshaw.
Kempker responded it should be good for five to eight years.
Trenshaw then suggested a planned rotation of 20% of the county’s asphalt roads each year. “We’ve got to get a rotation going,” he said.
“We’re trying to get something done,” Kempker responded. “Our road bases are good for chip and seal.”
“We’ll probably have to do some edge repair,” Kliethermes offered.
Kempker agreed, confirming one company’s price for a complete overlay was prohibitively expensive.
Kempker brought pictures of the new materials shed. It sits alongside an older structure but is identical to it.
Neuner announced the disbursement of $9,975 of County Aid Road Trust (CART) funds, earmarked specifically for roads through, and leading to, Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) areas.
Attorney Chris Rackers, retained by the county to help speed up and improve a settlement from Eldon Stutsman Trucking, has reported Stutsman’s insurance policy carries a $2 million property damage liability limit. He inquired whether the county might want to go for a quick settlement to get negotiations over with.
At first blush, sentiment seems to be against the idea. Such a settlement might pay for a new bridge but commissioners doubt it would do that and pay for the removal of the old bridge as well. Besides, there’s the economic impact and costs which have already accumulated. They continue to build, maintaining safety around the wreck.
“We have to have some understanding about who’s going to pay for what,” Kliethermes concluded, who then mentioned a 35-page working draft of a proposal to remove the wreck of the original bridge.
Commissioners want that done as quickly as possible. They want to see what it costs, have Stutsman pay for it, and then see where things stand.
Kliethermes passed around pictures of the old bridge sent to him by citizens in his district. Rackers has requested residents to share these photographs. Kempker turned in costs to the county through his department totaling $4,749.14. These have accrued working at the site of the bridge collapse since the accident in August 2020. He had them broken down into very describable details.
“If there’s anything else of that to do, let me know,” said Kempker.
Labor costs accumulate, keeping the road closed until the bridge is rebuilt. Along with gathering pictures, the commission wants each department to keep records. They all should be reimbursed.
Griffin reported hearing Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer and Sen. Roy Blunt are working in Washington, D.C., to get federal Bridge Rural Offset (BRO) funding increased. These dollars are the supply for most county road bridges that get replaced in Missouri.
Griffin reported a fuel tax issue, raising revenue to improve state roads, may be on the ballot this year.
City of Linn Utilities Superintendent Larry Frederich addressed the commissioners about the Second Street pavement project beginning south of the Osage County Courthouse. He asked if the commission would like to piggyback on the project. This would overlay a stretch east of the building while equipment and materials are on site. “We can get a better price if we try to work them together,” Frederich explained.
Commissioners asked him to get an official proposal. They are enthusiastic about the possibilities and the estimated price already available.
“It’s all about working together,” Griffin agreed.
Osage County 911/EMA Director Ron Hoffman announced the replacement of 104 road signs since the beginning of 2021. Of the total, 51 were from private drives and 53 were from county roads.
“Who eats that cost?” asked Griffin, rhetorically.
For the sake of first responders, these signs are required by county ordinance. Therefore, they are replaced at county cost. Signs for private lanes are smaller and cost $21. The county road signs are larger, costing $45 apiece. That amounts to a $3,000 drain on the county budget so far this year.
There has been some sentiment for having landowners pick up the cost of signs from their roads but it can’t go far.
“The county forced it on us,” Trenshaw asserted.
Often, the idea of having a sign at their driveway is not the citizen’s idea. This is regardless of the benefit to fire trucks, police vehicles, and ambulances. They might have difficulty finding a rural residence.
“People are stealing them for the aluminum,” Osage County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Supervisor Travis Holtmeyer theorized.
He replaces signs which disappear and keeps track of locations whose signs are gone. Recycling stations must report property like road signs which are obviously stolen but it’s questionable if they catch them all, if any.
“I’ve personally gone to scrap yards,” said Holtmeyer, assuring the commission of his personal effort to break the cycle.
Some have proposed posting cameras but Holtmeyer has heard from many landowners who are against the idea. Osage County Sheriff Mike Bonham might still try to get specific permission from some who are fed up with repeated thefts of their signs. Holtmeyer, though, believes an increase in the fine for getting caught might help.
“We need to bring in our prosecutor and make this a stiffer punishment,” he said.
“The citizens are doing what they can,” Hoffman added.
He insisted his department wants to make the signage plan work. There have been times when new landowners made up their own address. That has been of no use whatsoever to emergency services. Mapping needs to be uniform for all first responders. “It’s an ongoing thing,” he concluded.
Griffin made a plea to the public to watch these signs and help slow down the pace of the ongoing thefts. He pointed out these thousands of dollars could buy a lot of rock to improve county roads. “If you see one, call it in,” he urged.
Pursuing savings ideas, Holtmeyer searches for suppliers who make signs from plastic. Some signs still exist in the county made of plastic but that manufacturer has gone out of business. With visibility, plastic signs would be useful; and they wouldn’t provide the recycling value attractive to thieves.
An “active shooter” drill is scheduled at Chamois R-1 on Aug. 20, and Fatima R-3 on Aug. 23. “It’s a learning experience for the faculty and emergency services,” said Hoffman. “We’re preparing for it right now.”
Osage County Health Department Administrator Kim Sallin reported five active cases of COVID-19 in the county with a probability of four more but she is awaiting official test results. The official total is now 1,722 with the death toll remaining at 16. This places the county eighth in the state for the number of cases per 100,000 population. That number has faded, however, to 26th in recent weeks. Sallin is grateful for the improvement.
The percentage of county citizens totally vaccinated has climbed to 33%.
A Substance Use Disorder Awareness Walk is scheduled to start from the Legends Bank Park across from the courthouse at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 19. The event is designed to raise awareness of opioid addiction. It’s intended to provide education about the disorder and promote prevention strategies. It will be presented by the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) in partnership with other organizations.
The county is now in receipt of $1,322,277 from the American Rescue Plan (ARP). However, no official guidance for fund disbursement is yet available.
In recent years, court cases from the city of Owensville have been heard in Osage County.
“We’ve been facilitating their cases in our county for quite a while now,” said Bonham, who is interested in asking for some compensation from outside interests like Owensville, which would offset some of the extra costs involved.
He provided a copy of Missouri Revised Statutes 488.5026.1, which allows for such a surcharge, as long as the proceeds are deposited into an inmate security fund. He also displayed an ordinance from the city of Cameron that does this exact thing. He urged the commission to consider such an ordinance for Osage County. Griffin is interested in reviewing a drafted statute for the county once one is written.
In addition, jail funding reimbursement has been raised by the state legislature. Bonham wants help for the county to recoup costs by housing state inmates. They wait in the county jail, waiting for trial, or transport to state facilities. It’s been difficult for counties to receive payment on these debts and Osage County has a past-due amount, although not nearly as large as other counties.
Bonham talked of the effect of the federal policy at the United States’ southern border. A favorable environment for drug smugglers has multiplied methamphetamine pouring into the nation and Osage County is seeing the results. The glut of supply has driven down prices, and users are taking full advantage.
He mentioned a recent shooting in Jefferson City. An officer had stopped a car simply for expired plates. According to reports, the driver displayed a rifle and refused orders to drop it. The resistance escalated into an officer-involved fatal shooting of the suspect. “It’s the climate we’re working in right now,” Bonham commented.
Many incidents are drug-related.
There is concern about the appearance of some of the interior walls in the courthouse. Places where pictures were hung, but are now removed, are visible and less than attractive.
“When you walk in there, you want people to be proud,” Trenshaw commented.
A measure has passed in the state legislature that mandates counties imposing a use tax to notify vendors they must collect. Citizens buying from those companies must be notified of the tax at the time of purchase and a public service advertisement must be published to fulfill these requirements.
Trenshaw recently attended a meeting of the Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District H. The organization wants to cost-share in projects similar to the plastic recycling bailer at the Linn MFA.
“They’ve got money to help,” said Trenshaw, encouraging citizens with a related idea to contact him.
Commission approved paying bills from May 25 through June 7 as follows by department: 911/EMA ($1,721.56), Assessor ($3,647.50), Building & Grounds ($827.75), Circuit Clerk ($519.70), Collector ($283.92), Commission ($212.25), County Clerk ($128.66), Elections ($89.98), Health Department ($2,276.94), Miscellaneous ($5,010.75), Prosecuting Attorney ($91.99), Road & Bridge ($19,521.66), Sheriff-Jail ($16,121.40), and Pentecostal Bridge ($80): for a total of $50,546.06. Commissioners directed the inclusion of a Pentecostal Bridge line item for the purpose of documenting costs to the county to pass on to Eldon C. Stutsman, Inc., Hills, of Iowa, the trucking company whose driver wrecked the bridge in August 2020.
Osage County Presiding Commissioner Darryl Griffin asked the commissioners to look over the Sales Tax Distribution Deposit Notices from May. Deposited June 4, the original sales tax yielded $58,731.48, $1,150.64 higher than 2020, which was $8,292.64 higher than 2019. The 911 sales tax brought in $64,559.26, $2,144.04 lower than 2020, which was $13,238.45 higher than 2019. The courthouse renovation tax pulled in $64,559.25, $2,144.06 lower than 2020, which was $13,238.51 higher than 2019. The infrastructure tax paid $32,264.32, $1,068.88 lower than 2020, which was $6,679.40 higher than 2019. The use tax netted $27,643.14, $18,460.82 lower than 2020, which was $ 25,914.75 higher than 2019. The Proposition P Sales Tax for Law Enforcement brought in $58,685.51, still in its first year.
Commission reviewed these expenditures through May 31, listed by department: 911 ($286,963.04), Assessor ($90,051.14), EMA ($82,236.21), Road & Bridge ($765,577.23), Building & Grounds ($24,916.24), Circuit Clerk ($3,807.40), Collector ($42,057.43), Coroner ($9,418.95), County Clerk ($45,717.44), Commission ($46,248.84), Elections ($3,189.13), Employee Fringe Benefits ($104,596.83), Jail ($101,971.05), Juvenile Officer ($9,694.06), Prosecuting Attorney ($52,273.75), Public Administrator ($18,512.06), Health Department ($146,943.32), Recorder of Deeds ($19,292.21), Sheriff ($374,567.11), Other Government ($3,679), Professional Organization Fees ($20,728.50), Surveyor ($6,000), Treasurer ($19,047.75), and Transfers Out ($6,600); for a grand total of $1,059,250.97, 38.34% of budgeted totals. There were no expenditures from the emergency fund, leaving a balance of $68,370.
There will be no commission meeting Thursday, June 17 as commissioners are scheduled to attend the Missouri Association of Counties (MAC) West-Central Quarterly Meeting in Eldon.