February 28, 2023 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m.

I attended the February 28, 2023 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m.

All commissioners were present. This meeting was held in the conference room of the Commission Building. There were about ten people present besides the Camden County employees who normally attend. I didn’t see any dogs walking around under the table. Suspicious.

The first agenda item was Shawnee Bend Deed/Road Acceptance.

It turned out this was actually about Horseshoe Bend, not Shawnee Bend so the Commission voted to amend the agenda to reflect the change.

This item involved a road acceptance in Horseshoe Bend near the Palisades. The owner was willing to turn over a small portion of their property that was on the county’s right of way to the Horseshoe Bend Special Road District. The Road District was already maintaining that portion of road, but this would make it official that the county has that right of way established.

The Commission voted unanimously to accept this quit claim deed.

The second agenda item was the 2022 Financial Statement.

The Treasurer has prepared the 2022 Financial Statement. It needs to be approved by the Commission and forwarded to the County Clerk’s Office so it can be sent to the state government and published in the newspaper.

This item was approved unanimously.

The third agenda item was the Missouri Bell contract.

This was the county’s contract for phone line installation. It was re-negotiated by Commissioner Gohagan. He explained that under the previous contract, the county was paying $35 per visit. They are now paying an annual fee of $300 for visits. Since Missouri Bell would often come to the county offices several times a day, Gohagan said this new contract would save Camden County money.

This item was approved unanimously.

The fourth agenda item was Health Department Admin Appointment.

(This item was interesting. The Camden County Commission appoints a Camden County Health Director by the end of February of each year. It normally is the Administrator of the Camden County Health Department. That position is currently held by Stephanie Dake. I haven’t seen her a lot at meetings, but I did write about a grant-funded construction project she requested for the Health Department and you can find the link here. You’ll probably find the end of that article interesting.

The Commission had also been interviewing people for the Health Department Administrator position, so I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on with that job.)

Presiding Commissioner Skelton stated that Missouri statute requires the Commission to appoint the Health Department Administrator as the County Health Director.

Commissioner Williams made a motion to appoint Stephanie Dake, the Camden County Health Department Administrator, as the Camden County Health Director.

Commissioner Gohagan declined to second the motion.

Presiding Commissioner Skelton then declared the motion had died for lack of a second. Commissioner Williams looked surprised.

Skelton proposed tabling the issue. He suggested they schedule an emergency closed session to address the matter because it was a personnel issue.

Commissioner Gohagan declined to second the motion to table it. He said it shouldn’t be a surprise that he was opposing the motions because he told Dake “to her face” [that he was opposed].

Commissioner Williams mentioned that they needed to get it resolved pretty quickly because if they don’t have someone appointed to the position, the State of Missouri could come in and appoint their own Health Department Director. Commissioner Skelton didn’t seem too concerned about what the State might do and said there is no penalty in the statute.

The Commission unanimously voted to have an emergency closed session to appoint someone to the position.

If you’re into parliamentary procedures, that was quite a demonstration. It can get pretty wound up when there are only three members of a political body.

The final agenda item was the Accounting Policy and Procedures.

Presiding Commissioner Skelton mentioned that the Accounting Policy was last updated on September 29, 2020.

Commissioner Gohagan stated that a lot of the Commission’s authority was ceded to County Auditor Jimmy Laughlin by the previous Commission. Gohagan made a motion to rescind the Accounting Policy until it can be reviewed section by section.

The Commission voted unanimously to rescind the Accounting Policy.

Gohagan commented that the county isn’t currently following much of the policy. Since Auditor Laughlin has been ignoring fraud and waste in the county government, why should the Commission give him the power to audit it? What’s the point of having an Accounting Policy if nobody follows it? Gohagan said that Laughlin has been signing off on paperwork as a Commissioner and he wanted to know where Laughlin got the authority to do that?

Commissioner Williams said he thought the Auditor had been given some authority when he was supervising the IT services after the ransomware attack.

Nathan Rinne mentioned he had reviewed the Accounting Policy and according to that policy, the Commission has the sole authority to review and approve all contracts for goods and services that exceed $10,000. Rinne said he has seen contracts for the Hunter Group that were not signed by any commissioners and the signature of Auditor Laughlin was signed where the Commission signatures should be. According to Rinne, the Auditor signed multiple Hunter Group contracts that exceeded the $10,000 restriction.

Rinne went on to list numerous statutorily required auditing tasks that an Auditor must perform that were not being completed by the Auditor.

Commissioner Skelton wanted to know when the review of the policy would be completed? Commissioner Gohagan confirmed that the county was currently following all Missouri statutes. County Attorney Green did advise that they complete the review expeditiously since the Accounting Policy had been required by a past audit by the Missouri State Auditor.

The Public Comment portion now kicked off.

A citizen asked what exactly had happened with the agenda item involving the Health Director? Many of us were curious.

Commissioner Skelton replied that they would have a closed session to discuss the issue because they were going to need to appoint a County Health Officer.

Commissioner Skelton then announced that the commissioners were going to spend most of the next week getting out of the office, touring through the county, and meeting their constituents. He also stated that that the County Attorney had reviewed the county trucking contract that was discussed at the previous meeting and he determined that the contract was appropriately written.

And that was that.

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