CHARLESTON -- Mississippi County Assessor W.R. "Bill" Thompson failed to turn over updated files for the county's geographic information system Friday claiming an inability to comply.
A GIS is a computer program that can display a wide variety of data layers graphically over aerial photograph base maps.
A letter from County Clerk Junior DeLay formally requesting updated files for the GIS was delivered Tuesday. Under Missouri's Sunshine Law, the public information must be delivered within three business days of the request, according to the letter.
Thompson replied Friday with a formal letter explaining the reason he did not hand over the requested files was he does not know how to access and copy them.
"I feel that the law requires me to make such information available to interested parties, although I feel uneasy releasing material that is not complete or with 'work in progress,'" Thompson wrote in closing his letter. "Finally, I am making it known that I do not know how to access your request and copy the above-mentioned items, therefore I will be waiting for your input."
"One thing he did not do is provide me with a time when I could expect to receive the records," DeLay said. "Just because he doesn't know how to do it does not relieve him of the responsibility to provide the records. ... That is not a valid reason for denial."
Citing Missouri's Revised Statutes, DeLay said if access is not granted, the custodian must provide a detailed explanation on the cause for further delay and the place and earliest time and date that the data will be available. This period for document production may exceed three days for reasonable cause.
In his letter, Thompson also advised "original assessment maps when delivered to me by (the GIS vendor) Midland Inc. have multiple errors as I have brought to the attention to the County Commission and Midland Inc."
The errors were confirmed by a parcel-by-parcel review by Roger Arzen, certified consultant, and documented to the State Tax Commission, according to Thompson.
Midland GIS Solutions officials "have a great amount of concern over what is mentioned in this letter," DeLay said, and wish to be advised of any errors so they can correct them.
"Midland has never been made aware of this," DeLay said. "They know Roger very well. They are going to contact Mr. Arzen to find out what type of errors they are talking about."
Thompson also advised "the electronic software ... used for the assessment maps has come uncoupled from the database as well as other issues that have not been resolved by the software provider. These issues have been related to Midland Inc. and your 911 coordinator, apparently without the care of understanding."
DeLay said Sarah Anderson, a mapper for Cape Girardeau County under contract with the Mississippi County Assessor's Office to update the county's maps, has been trained to deal with uncoupling.
Also, during a previous meeting with Midland technicians, they demonstrated it was not uncoupled at that time, DeLay said.