Among a long list of agenda items covered during its Tuesday meeting, the St. Francois County Commission heard a report from Auditor Louie Seiberlich who, along with two of his staff, attended the annual County Auditors Conference held April 26-28 in Camdenton.
At the conference, county auditors from across Missouri earned 20 hours of statute-mandated certification. Of the 24 counties represented at the three-day session, 13 (including St. Francois County) were Classification 1 counties, four were Classification 4, and two were Classification 2.
“A few years ago, this county started taking members of the auditor’s office to get a better understanding of how important our job is,” Seiberlich said. “Since then, other counties have followed to get the updates on revised rules and accounting procedures. Amber and Bridget attended with me and made contacts for future references, as this office continues to cross-train our team to fill all roles in the office.”
According to Seiberlich, the conference highlighted a number of issues of importance to Missouri counties.
“Prior to our conference, me, Commissioner Kater and Treasurer Peterson participated in a Zoom meeting with the Missouri Association of Counties about the distribution of opioid settlement funds, with new settlements coming, and the importance of tracking the funds over the next 17 years,” he said. “Eighty-five percent of these funds are restricted for anything drug-related, with 15% unrestricted for county government.”
Seiberlich noted that final revised audit requirements for the use of ARPA funds will be released and that the U.S. Treasury will be conducting audits of schools and counties, as well as “anyone else” that has received them. He added that this is why his office insists on correct voting language and documentation.
During the conference, he said, the offices of Missouri’s attorney general and state auditor presented “separate but lengthy” Sunshine Law updates.
Seiberlich said, “It is critical that any office getting a [Sunshine Law] request has to report it to Rhonda in the county clerk’s office immediately, and then it is your responsibility to respond [to the request] immediately.”
Listing other items discussed at the conference, Seiberlich said, “The attorney for Boone County spent two hours on bid-letting, purchasing, setting office budgets, requisitions and nepotism. Tyler Technologies introduced new software that we are going to investigate. The state auditor presented three cases of payroll, sick leave and benefits fraud, and we hear more about ransomware shutting down county governments, schools and hospitals. There was also an extended roundtable discussion focused on county ordinances to improve, clarify and clean up problem areas.
“From our lobbyist — it is critical that county officials, primarily the county commission, pay close attention to the financial impact of proposed bills running through Jefferson City during the legislative session. It is important to contact our legislators on the cost of passed bills to the county, and in turn, to the taxpayer. Examples from this [legislative] session would be sales tax exemptions and personal property reassessment bills.”
According to Seiberlich, 42 bills regarding tax exemptions and personal property reassessment have been introduced in this legislative session alone.
Concluding his report, Seiberlich said, “We also received an ‘association approved’ checklist for county offices of their duties related to our duties, which will be forwarded to each [St. Francois County] office for review and then submitted to the county policy manual.”
In other action by the county commission:
• Three cost proposals were approved for construction nearing completion at the county’s new Law Enforcement Center. They include: 1) reducing the concrete apron at the maintenance bay for a savings of $3,157.80; 2) costs associated with treating unsuitable soils, as directed by Taylor Engineering at a cost of $15,592; and 3) the addition of a larger lift access gate in the center’s chain link fence at a cost of $2,352.
• Two cost proposals were approved for construction nearing completion at the county’s Juvenile Detention Center. They include: 1) crack and reseal the existing asphalt parking lot at a cost of $6,157; and 2) additional asphalt, striping and bumper blocks in the parking lot at a cost of $12,942.
• A request by the city of Farmington to annex county property in the 1100 block of South Jefferson Street was approved.
• Approval was given for the sheriff’s department to place an ad in the Daily Journal requesting bids for four police interceptor SUVs.
• A trash service contract with Republic Trash Service was approved for the courthouse, courthouse annex, road and bridge department, Weber Road Facility and Juvenile Detention Center. Republic Trash Service, which had the previous contract with the county, was the only company to submit a bid.
• Three-year contracts renewing email licenses for St. Francois County government and the sheriff’s department were approved.
• Because of a mistake made by the county, penalty and interest were waived on the 2020 tax bill of Suzi Kwon.
• The road and bridge department was given permission to bid various overlay projects.
• Because the county courthouse will be closed Monday in recognition of Truman Day, all agenda items for next Tuesday’s county commissioner’s meeting must be received by the county clerk’s office by Friday.
• Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher announced the courthouse annex parking lot will also be closed Monday for repairs and improvements.
Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-783-9667 or firstname.lastname@example.org