April 20, 2021 10:00 am Camden County Commission Meeting

All three commissioners were present.

There was a couple filming the session and I tried unsuccessfully to get out of the way of their camera shots. All told there were four of us non-County employees at the meeting, so it was nice to have some company.

The first agenda item was the cancellation of the maintenance trailer bid discussed initially in the April 13, 2021 meeting. The Maintenance Department was able to find a trailer suitable for taking their equipment to remote sites for $5,600. This amount is below the amount that requires a bidding process for the item. The previous bids were in the neighborhood of $8,000. This item was approved by the commissioners.

I thought this item was a little curious because they had already gone to the trouble of soliciting bids for the trailer. Why not just come and answer questions about the bids? Maybe the $5,600 trailer suited their needs at a cheaper cost. Maybe I’m just getting too suspicious. ?

The next agenda item was the Audit Report. The commissioners were given copies of the Audit and the Camden County Auditor gave them a summary of the report. He also said the Audit Report will be posted on the website a few hours after the meeting. I’m not going to detail every aspect of this discussion since people can review it there.

Now I may not have heard all of the details perfectly but I had my Married Man Adjustable Hearing turned up to 11. My wife doesn’t know it can go past 6. The audit was for the end of 2019.

Camden County’s balance in the Audit Report is $8.32 million. Commissioner Hasty mentioned that when he was took office, Camden County’s balance was at $1.4 million. The current policy guides them to retain 30% of Camden County’s operation costs in the general fund. This is enough to cover Camden County’s operating costs for 60 days.

This money cannot just be spent on anything because some of it is earmarked for specific purposes. Camden County’s strategic goal is to maintain three months of its operating costs in reserve in case of an emergency. This is similar to the goals of Greene County and other comparable Missouri counties.

Regarding debt service (on Page 38), one long term debt is the $4 million used to provide the heating and cooling systems for the judicial building. Camden County also has to be in a position to be the securing entity for the sewer districts like Camelot and others should they fail. The Courtroom Annex was also mentioned as a debt.

The Audit Report contains details of the various departments that we receive funding for. At the End of 2018 Audit, there were 6 “Findings”. It sounded like these Findings were issues that the Audit felt needed to be fixed. According to the Camden County Auditor, all but one of these findings were fixed. The 2018 Audit had mentioned several findings which have been resolved in the End of 2019 Audit:

No internal controls (audit finding since 2007)

Internal fraud prevention (audit finding since 2007)

Reconciling issues

The 2019 Audit had only a single finding: The CIFA award letter was not filed in a timely manner but the Camden County Auditor explained that Camden County had received an extension to file it so this didn’t seem to me to be a big problem. Apparently, this issue has occurred in many other counties and states. He stated it should be resolved in 2020.

The Camden County Auditor stated that the biggest improvements have been the new accounting software that has integrated the Camden County system, controls put in place by the accounting software, and new policies that have clarified consistent procedures for Camden County departments to use.

Commissioner Hasty thanked the various elected Camden County officials in other county departments for their cooperation in making these improvements possible.

A representative from the Treasurer’s Office also clarified that the County Treasurer had prepared reconciliations, but those had not been compatible with the rest of the Camden County software system. They had tried to have this corrected in the Audit Report, but the Audit had already been finalized.

Commissioner Gohagan discussed with the Camden County Auditor the issue that the Medical Examiner is included in the LEST fund. Gohagan stated that the Medical Examiner should be moved from the Camden County Sheriff’s Department. Gohagan voiced that this could be a potential conflict of interest if the Medical Examiner’s Office receives funding from the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Helms didn’t seem to have an issue with the Medical Examiner’s Office being moved.

I agree with this because in the event of a Deputy-Involved Shooting, it would be much smarter and look better for Camden County to have a fully independent Medical Examiner’s Office conducting the autopsies.

Commissioner Gohagan also asked why there were late fees charged for Caterpillar equipment rentals. Last month there was $6,000 paid in late fees. Comissioner Gohagan stated they need to review the audit and was concerned about issues like the late fees.

The commissioners voted to approve the Audit Report.

The final agenda item was the budget amendments.

The first amendment was the Purchasing Department moving funds from Miscellaneous to Equipment to purchase a new computer for $1,100.

The second amendment was for EMA (Emergency Management Authority) to raise the Grant Revenue line to add an additional $21,317.34 of grant money to their budget.

The third amendment was $33,000 to the LEST fund for LEST money coming from the Clerk into LEST for the Impaired Driver Task Force. This created a new expenditure line in the budget. Sheriff Helms stated that he has a meeting today and received information that the State might end up covering that cost. All of the budget amendments were approved.

The Camden County Auditor also mentioned he had attended a Legislative Day yesterday. Camden County is the third highest destination for new residents in Missouri. Missouri is the 11th highest state destination for new businesses. Missouri is also going to pay the money they owe Camden County for prisoner payback.

Missouri is also doing better than most other states on bridge repairs because Missouri didn’t close road construction during the pandemic. Missouri had over 250 bridges that needed to be repaired. The governor stated 50% of the bridge repair goals were met.

He mentioned that ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) money is currently restricted by the Treasury Department to infrastructure improvements in the areas of water, sewer, and broadband. There is an expectation that some of these guidelines might change so they are waiting from clearer guidelines from the Treasury before spending the funds. Rural broadband is also going to be a future infrastructure priority.

Money might change based on the results of the 2020 census. Also the fact that Camden County’s sales tax doubled in 2020 might mean that we can’t claim negative funds and that might impact this.

Commissioner Hasty mentioned that Camden County should establish a countywide Airport Authority. Commissioner Williams talked for a while about broadband services. Things started to wander a bit, but hey, we wanted open meetings, right? I’d rather have them talking then just getting up there and voting on things with no discussion.

Finally, Commissioner Hasty stated the Elected Officials Meeting at 1:00 pm was going to discuss how the health insurance plan works. I mention this because there had been some questions about that meeting. That meeting was rescheduled due to snow.

Overall, the Camden County Auditor made a good impression. He seems to know his stuff, had a good command of the budget, and was able to readily explain issues to the commissioners. If I could understand most of it, he must be good at explaining. It sounded like the efforts to put stronger financial systems and policies in place have standardized the way Camden County operates financially.

And that was that.

I knew this was going to probably be a quick meeting but I still attended for a few reasons:

  1. Whenever I don’t go because I think it’s going to be a nothing meeting, something happens and I’m annoyed that I wasn’t there.
  2. I find it pretty amusing that they have to go through the whole parliamentary procedures of the meeting since they have an audience.
  3. It’s important to have a record of EVERY meeting in case a public official says, “We talked about this in the last meeting.” and someone else who was at that meeting can say, “I don’t think you did.”

Next meeting is tomorrow at 10:00 am. There is a closed meeting on April 23 at 10:00 am.

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