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County fighting move to second class

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

BENTON - Scott County commissioners will send a letter to area legislators calling for an increase to the assessed value at which a county must go from third class to second class.

During their regular meeting Tuesday, commissioners agreed to send the letter along with news articles from the Standard Democrat and Southeast Missourian and drew up a list of lawmakers to send it to. Copies will also be sent to the Missouri Association of Counties, the County Commissions' Association of Missouri and Gov. Bob Holden who recently vetoed Senate Bill 199 which would have made the change.

Included on the list of legislators are: state senators Peter Kinder and Sen. Bill Foster; and state representatives Peter Myers, Lanie Black III, Scott A. Lipke, Rob Mayer, Jason Crowell and Otto Bean.

Commissioners expect becoming a second class county to cost Scott County an additional $200,000 each year because of requirements such as establishing a county auditor's office.

"Peter Myers has agreed to prefile a bill," said Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel.

If a change is not passed in Jefferson City, candidates may begin filing for county auditor Feb. 24 in Scott and Butler counties. Stoddard County is in the five-year "holding pattern" before being forced to become a second class county.

In other Scott County news:

The bid to print tax assessment lists was awarded to Edgar J. Rice Company of Springfield for $11,971.70 as recommended by Teresa Houchin, county assessor.

The assessor's office will only have to supply a disk with the assessment list data on it and the company will take care of all the printing, addressing and mailing.

"They're the only place in the state that does it like this," said Houchin. "They take care of everything."

The assessment lists will look slightly different. "They're not going to have labels," Houchin said, explaining the addresses will be printed directly on the statement instead of using a label.

Houchin said the company was highly recommended by other assessors. "I didn't hear one negative comment," she said.

Last year's assessment list mailing cost $12,478 and postage has gone up since then, Houchin said.

Houchin also reported that the Missouri Association of Counties dropped its lawsuit against the state for dropping the reimbursement rate per parcel from $6.20 to $5.50 and most recently down to $5 but may sue on a related issue.

The State Tax Commission froze the parcel count for counties indefinitely, according to Houchin. "It could be a month, it could be five years," she said. "So MAC is picking up a lawsuit on that."

The STC had promised not to drop below $5.50 following the first cut, Houchin said.

County officials estimated that with the rate cut by $1.20, the county is receiving about $30,000 less that it would have.

"This makes it hard on county governments when the state cuts the reimbursement," Priggel said. Money missing due to reimbursement cuts means "money has to come from the county's general revenue fund," he said.

Commissioners also discussed options for new county plat maps with County Clerk Rita Milam.