BENTON -- The village of Diehlstadt is looking into options to get out of its financial mess.
There was an informative meeting held Thursday night between its board of trustees and County Collector Mark Hensley to discuss bundling city taxes with the county, Commissioner Ron McCormick reported at Thursday's regular commissioner meeting. He planned to attend the meeting, too.
In August, Mark Pemberton of the village's board of trustees met with Scott County commissioners to discuss money woes in the county and ask for assistance and advice. The chief problem, according to Pemberton, is that its difficult to force residents to pay their city taxes, since there is no penalty or enforcing agency.
"We're having trouble getting people to pay them, and looking for a way to make people do that," said Pemberton.
In August, the village was behind on its light bill and hard pressed to make payments on a loan taken out to fund street improvements. Pemberton attributed the financial hardship not only to the lack of tax collection, but also the reduction in the County Aid Road Trust Fund tax, due to previous overpayments by the state.
Pemberton didn't have an exact amount of how much the village has lost due to the reduction. But, he did note the loan has been refinanced, so the monthly bills are not quite as high.
"We're just getting information," Pemberton said of Thursday night's meeting. He didn't anticipate an immediate decision.
Hensley said he plans to go over options, and tell the trustees about what statutes say the city's rights are.
"I would assume that my collection rates would be a lot higher than theirs," Hensley said.
But if the tax bills were bundled, it would practically ensure payment, said Hensley. "The county personal taxes must be paid by someone to get their car licensed," he said. And taxpayers would have to pay the entire bill in full for that, he pointed out, so they couldn't continue to refuse to pay city rates.
In other county news on Thursday:
- Hensley said tax bills are set to go out on time, around Nov. 10. With the satellite office set up in Sikeston being so well-received, plus the still high cost of fuel, the office is setting up a pilot program to add temporary satellite offices in Scott City and Chaffee.
"We're trying to be really economical," he said. "And in Sikeston, the response has been excellent."
Hensley noted that he runs the offices himself, and that they save taxpayers time and money. The Sikeston office, located at 514 S. Main, is open 3:30 to 5:30 Tuesdays and Thursdays year round, and he estimated about four to five taxpayers come in each day, other than during the high volume tax season.
In November and December, he will be set up from 3 to 5 p.m. Mondays at Scott City's City Hall; and from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays at the City Hall in Chaffee.
- McCormick nominated Debbie Nelson of Blodgett to serve on the Riverside Regional Library board of directors for a term ending in 2010. Commissioners approved the appointment.
"She'll be very, very good for this board," said Jamie Burger, presiding commissioner.