June 23, 2022 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m.

The Gadfly attended the June 23, 2022 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m.

All commissioners were present.

The only other person in the audience was Gail White who is a Public Water Supply District #5 (PWSD#5) Board Member. We introduced ourselves and she confessed that she enjoys reading my blog. I swore I would keep her secret safe.

She introduced herself to the Commission during Public Comment. She was there to talk about the final agenda item: Resolution ARPA Funds.

PWSD#5 is the water district that covers Cedar Heights and Clearwater. They currently serve over 411 households. They are planning to dig a new well, put up fencing, and increase their storage capacity. They already have an engineering grant from DNR for the project. Their deadline to submit a Missouri State ARPA request is July 14.

Commissioner Williams explained that Camden County has received $11.1 million in ARPA requests from local water districts. (Camden County will receive $8,994,203 in total ARPA funding.) According to Williams, there is $100 million in Missouri State ARPA fund grants available for water districts. Camden County plans to set aside $2 million in ARPA money for water districts to use as matching money to help qualify for Missouri ARPA money grants for these local districts.

Camden County and its Water Districts

(There are several factors that are used to “score” and prioritize these requests for the State ARPA money. One of the scoring criteria is the amount of local money that will be contributed to the project.)

Charles McElyea (Legal Advisor to the Commission) stated that the highest scoring for the grants is if the county contributes over 20%.

Jimmy Laughlin, the County Auditor, said the county plans to contribute 20.1% or 21% to maximize those scores. The most ARPA money the state will give on one of these grants is $5 million.

Commissioner Williams stressed that these State ARPA grants are competitive. The Auditor agreed that having a 20% contribution from Camden County would make the county’s water district grant applications more likely to be approved.

Gail White explained that PWSD#5 will need a letter of intent from Camden County before they submit their application.

Commissioner Hasty asked what they would do if the county makes a commitment to provide their share of the ARPA funds and the application is rejected by the state?

Gail White said that the water district does have bonding capability, but they would prefer to fund it with the state ARPA grant. The total project cost will be $4,475,250. The district has $50,000 set aside and if Camden County could contribute enough ARPA money to get the local share to a little under $900,000, they would meet the 20%+ DNR scoring category.

The commissioners stated they plan to talk to the various water districts over the next week and establish how much ARPA money has to committed to each district to increase their DNR scores and the likelihood that their grant requests will be approved.

The first agenda item was: Revised Financial Statement. The Treasurer stated that the county financial statement that was published and sent to the state government did not include the county’s CD investments. The new revised statement includes those investments.

The revised financial statement was approved unanimously by the Commission.

The next agenda item was: Revised Open Meeting Policy.

It sounded like this was a revision of the process to handle Sunshine Law requests.

Charles McElyea said the new policy includes the state fees and charges that are dictated by Missouri statute. The fees and charges in the previous policy were lower. The statutory charges have now been adopted.

The reading of the new policy also appeared to establish Rowland Todd, the County Clerk, as the Custodian of Records and the elected official who should receive all Sunshine Law requests.

These revisions were accepted unanimously by the Commission.

The final agenda item was: Resolution ARPA Policy.

The resolution stated that Camden County received less than $10 million in ARPA funds so the county will be choosing the short form declaration for lost revenue on their ARPA submission.

This resolution was approved unanimously.

Now, we all know know that Camden County did not lose revenue last year and in fact, county revenue actually increased. However, under the Department of the Treasury’s Final Rule, governmental bodies that received less than $10 million can choose the short form (kind of like a standard deduction on your income tax), and the federal government will presume they lost revenue. If they didn’t choose the short form, Camden County would have to itemize their lost revenue which would be problematic because those losses don’t exist.

Try explaining how that rule works to your kids. They might ask you some tough questions.

And that was that.

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