CHARLESTON - St. James Drainage District officials will either reimburse Mississippi County for mowing and excavation assistance or can kiss county help goodbye.
County Clerk Junior DeLay confirmed during Thursday's County Commission meeting that Treasurer Sandra DeField has billed the district, and that a bill dated March 8, 2001, for $2,500 is still outstanding. "She said they never pay," DeLay said. "She said she sent it several times."
The district's chairman recently supplied East Prairie with a culvert, however. "If he can pay for that pipe, he can afford to pay us a little," Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg said.
Blumenberg said the county should receive some reimbursement for recent mowing and excavation to help with East Prairie's drainage. "We've had both of our longreaches down there," Blumenberg said.
Commissioner Martin Lucas said if the longreach excavators were contracted privately, they would have cost the district $100 per hour each.
DeLay said the St. James Drainage District collects about $17,500 per year in taxes.
In other Mississippi County news:
* Commissioners will ask Jennifer Raffety, county prosecutor, about the possibility of a county leash law.
"I think it needs to be done," Blumenberg said. He suggested stray dogs may be considered a public health and safety issue.
Blumenberg said he would also like to see a planning and zoning ordinance for the county to help clean up junky areas but does not believe it would be approved by the voters.
* Lucas said the county needs to look at changing right-of-ways alongside properties entering the U.S. Department of Agriculture's wetland mitigation program.
Once the land enters the program, federal officials will not allow any leeway for the county to get on the ground during ditch maintenance. "They will take right up to the recorded easement," Lucas said.
Lucas said ditch right-of-ways were designated in 1912, and much has changed since then. "The ditches have been widened," he said.
Commissioner Homer Oliver recommending getting more easement, but Lucas expressed concern over the cost of doing so.
Under the program wetland program, landowners receive $1,800 per acre, retaining ownership but forfeiting the right to use the land as they want to.
For example, 70 percent must be forested. "It's a perpetual, lifetime deal," Lucas said. Some land uses are permitted such as selling hunting rights, for example, he added.
As acreage goes into this program, the county can expect some drop in real estate property tax as the land will go from a farmland assessment rate to unimproved agricultural.
Lucas said the program is a good one, however. "It's ground that never should have been cleared in the first place," he said.
* Road and bridge department officials are continuing to search for four quality rail cars for use in the construction of two county bridges.
* The county is seeking bids for the lease-operation of the county airport.