BENTON - Scott County officials are faced with what appears to be another example of an unfunded mandate from the state.
Audits, which are required of the county every other year, were previously conducted by officials from the state Auditor's Office or by auditors under contract by the state.
Now, however, the county must bear the cost, Scott County officials said during their regular meeting Tuesday.
"The state auditor is only going to audit every four years," said County Clerk Rita Milam.
While counties are supposed to be protected from unfunded mandates handed down by the state by the Hancock Amendment, officials have seen several cuts over the last couple of years which force the county to make up the difference on existing services.
Ready examples of this include cuts to the daily rate on reimbursements to county jails from the Department of Corrections and cuts on parcel reimbursement to the assessor's office.
Commissioners opened bids for the 2002-2003 audit but will study them and check on references before making a final decision.
The apparent low bidder is Schott and Van de Ven of Cape Girardeau, which bid $15,600.
Also bidding was Larson Allen of St. Louis which offered their services for $16,915.
Audit reports must be submitted by Sept. 30, Milam said.
Officials recalled state auditors did the 2000-2001 audit and the Larson Allen company conducted the county's audit for 1998-1999.
In other Scott County business:
* County Economic Developer Jim Schwaninger updated commissioners on several project including the county's application for Homeland Security funding for the establishment of a county geographic information system through the State Emergency Management Agency.
Initial cost estimates to set up the system put the total at around $185,000 plus the cost of aerial photography.
"All his numbers are on the high side," Schwaninger said of the estimate, noting that generally speaking, photography costs have come down while mapping costs have risen.
Schwaninger also advised commissioners that developer Phil Boyer is expected to present the county with his final reimbursement request for the TIF project at the Sikeston Outlet Mall.
An economic activity update and forecast was also reviewed with commissioners.
Among the highlights, Schwaninger noted that retail sales are projected to increase 3 percent, which is better than the three previous years. With little inflation being factored into the retail prices, Schwaninger said this indicates a growing economy in the region.
Officials agreed with the speculation that, having had good grain prices and a change in their equipment depreciation formula, farmers were undoubtedly major contributors to the retail sales increase.
"Farmers get it and they spend it," said Martin Priggel, presiding commissioner.
Commissioner Jamie Burger said sales tax receipts for the year so far are up $14,850 as compared with last year.
"The majority of it was this month," Burger said. He speculated car sales may have been a significant contributor to the increase in collected taxes.
* The bid to remove asbestos from the courthouse was awarded Thursday to the lower bidder, Schemel of Perryville, which bid the job at $29,300.
There was one other bidder, Spray Services of Washington, Mo., which offered to complete the task for $61,214.
Priggel said there is almost a quarter mile of asbestos-covered pipe at the courthouse.
All of the affected pipe is part of the courthouse's old boiler-radiator heating system.
Schemel will begin April 26. To complete the job, it will take "four weeks maximum, three weeks hopefully," said Burger.