May 9, 2023 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m.

The Camden County Gadfly attended the May 9, 2023 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m. This meeting was held in the conference room of the Commission Building.

All commissioners were present.

As the meeting was getting started, Commissioner Gohagan announced that the Commission wanted to give the reporter from the Lake Sun a visitor’s pass. The Captain from the Sheriff’s Office responded that it shouldn’t be a problem. I sulkily observed that the visitor pass vetting process seems to have shortened a bit from the rigorous struggle I had to endure to earn one.

Sniff. Alas, the trials and tribulations a Gadfly must face.

Enough about me!

The first item on the agenda was a presentation by two fine members of Pawhuska Township who also happened to be my neighbors. Excellent folks who thankfully don’t feel the need to call the Sheriff’s Office every time they see the people who live next door to them getting a little rowdy and exuberant.

They came to the Commission to express their concerns regarding late fees on their real estate property taxes. They recently closed on their property and paid property taxes at the time of closing. Their property was later reassessed based on the new house that they had built, but they never received an updated property tax bill for the new value. The first notice they received was a late bill that included around $500 in late fees and penalties. They immediately paid the newly assessed property tax bill, but they were questioning what they might have been able to do differently to anticipate the increase in their property taxes?

The Tax Assessor and his deputy explained that they have tried to provide training for title companies to make sure they check with the Assessor’s Office prior to closing about potential property tax increases for new construction. After quite a bit of discussion, it was made clear that Missouri requires new buyers to be proactive and inquire about any potential changes in their property taxes. It was also explained that late penalties for property taxes are dictated by Missouri statute and can only be waived under specific circumstances like military service or a death. Neither of my neighbors was on active duty and I didn’t get the feeling that either of them was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so the other could have their late fees waived.

The second agenda item was Surplus Properties – RFQ for Auction Services.

Camden County has several properties they plan to sell off. One of them is the Greg Hasty Parking Lot by the Amphitheater. The Commission plans to auction the properties, and the RFQ (Request For Quote) is intended to determine which auction company the county will employ.

A citizen questioned the Commission about how they intended to advertise the RFQ? How would it be listed? Would they put together a bidding package? Her concern was that the RFQ should be specific regarding parameters for the bid so the bids received would be similar in concept, allowing the county to compare “apples to apples” when they chose a winning bidder.

Commissioner Williams mentioned that the law requires that the RFQ be listed in the newspaper. The Commission acknowledged that this was the minimum requirement.

The Commission voted unanimously to publish an RFQ for a qualified auction service.

The third agenda item was the RFQ for Financial Audit.

This was a a quote request for the annual audit that the county conducts every year. Commissioner Skelton mentioned they still haven’t received the results from last year’s audit.

To be frank about this, the County Auditor is required by statute to audit every county department annually and when the elected officials leave office. To get around having to do this, some counties pay an outside audit company to do a county audit every year. The County Auditor gives the contracted audit company the numbers and they gin up an audit.

You’d be amazed by how few of these “outside” audits unearth problems. In fact, Presiding Commissioner Hasty stated in a Commission meeting last year that he thought the last two county audits were “whitewashes.”

Considering that the word “Audit” is in his name, does this seem like the way the County Auditor should be handling his statutorily mandated auditing responsibilities?

The Commission voted unanimously to submit an RFQ for a company to conduct this annual audit.

The fourth agenda item was for 2023 Tax Sale Publication Bid Award.

The county received two bids from The Reporter and the Lake Sun.

The representative from the Collector’s Office recommended that the Commission accept the bid from the Lake Sun because it was cheaper.

The Commission voted to accept the Lake Sun’s Bid unanimously.

Sheesh! A coveted Visitor’s Pass and now the bid for the 2023 Tax Sale Publication? I guess everything was coming up roses for the Lake Sun at this meeting!!

And that was that.

I grumbled to myself as I stormed out of the magnificent Commission Building. A few people tried to talk to me, but I just laid down and played dead until they moved on. Every possum has his day.

My only comfort as I drove home was reminding myself that tomorrow’s meeting will be back on the 3rd Floor of the Camden County Courthouse. At 10:00 a.m. on May 16, we will get to see the amazing transformation that millions of tax dollars have made upon the Camden County Commission Meeting Room. Get ready to be impressed.

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