CHARLESTON -- Mississippi County commissioners will seek a legal opinion on options to fairly address maintenance costs for some drainage ditches within the city.
During the regular County Commission meeting Thursday, Commissioner Martin Lucas said there is no tax levied for Ditch 14's east and west laterals located within Charleston.
Any money for that ditch comes from property owners near Ditch 14 south of Interstate 57, he said.
Lucas said it is not fair for those landowners to pay for maintenance on drainage ditches that don't directly benefit the land they are taxed on.
He suggested one option may be for the county to vacate their easements on the ditch laterals so they become the city of Charleston's responsibility.
"Currently we are spraying the ditch," Commissioner Homer Oliver said. He said if the county continues to spray those laterals, they need to be more thorough as the city has advised county officials the vegetation on one of the laterals is exceeding the height allowed by city ordinances.
"It is an eyesore," Oliver conceded.
He noted the section by the old Brown Shoe Company also has drainage issues. "The east lateral needs to be cleaned out," Oliver said.
Commissioners agreed to check into drainage laws to see if there is some remedy for the problem.
"We'll pursue that," Oliver said.
In other business Thursday:
* County Clerk DeLay presented a briefing on the county's Public Defender Office expenses.
"This is primarily for information," he said.
Mississippi County is served by the Southeast Public Defender Office which also serves Scott, Cape Girardeau, Bollinger and Perry counties.
The cost of the office's annual rent, which is about $30,000, and utilities are pro-rated to the participating counties based on population, DeLay explained.
As Mississippi County pays 8.79 percent of the bills, its share of the rent comes out to $219.75 per month. The county's share of utilities for the first six months of the year is $1,207.
Cape Girardeau County pays 45 percent, Scott pays 26.47 percent, Perry's share is 11.87 percent and Bollinger contributes 7.87 percent.
About two years ago, Cape Girardeau County, which administers the office, moved the Public Defender Office from the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse basement to what was an old bank located near the courthouse. The move included raising the rent.
One of the five counties did not agree with the move and has objected to paying for the increase in rent, according to DeLay, and still owes money from 2005 they refused to pay.
"We're paying what they bill us," he said, adding that disputes are supposed to be submitted to the judicial finance commission.
* Oliver said Richard Wallace, county road and bridge superintendent, has reported the price for asphalt oil has gone up 60 cents per gallon since the last time it was purchased.
Lucas said this season's blacktopping may have to wrap up soon as nights are getting cooler already.