About 35 people, including Edgar Springs city officials and residents, turned out for the Phelps County Commission’s second night meeting this month held Tuesday at Edgar Springs City Hall.
The National Association of Counties has declared the month of April as National County Government Month, and as an outreach effort, county commissioners are holding meetings on five consecutive Tuesday nights in April and May at the county’s five incorporated cities.
The evening meetings provide an opportunity for county residents who may not have a chance to attend regularly scheduled commission meetings, which are held Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the Phelps County Courthouse in Rolla.
Property taxes, sewers and roads were among the discussion topics raised by Edgar Springs officials during the commission meeting.
City Administrator Paula James told County Assessor Bill Wiggins that she feels some city residents are not filing personal property tax forms based on a tax booklet given to her by his office.
In an email from Wiggins to James and county commissioners after the meeting, Wiggins wrote that there were 122 residential real estate parcels in Edgar Springs for 2013. He said he sent out 108 personal property assessment forms to city residents and the city has a population of 207, which translates to 52.2 percent of the population receiving forms.
“Many husbands, wives, co-habitants and families share personal property accounts, so it doesn't appear that I am missing as many personal property accounts as you think,” Wiggins wrote. “I will always try to track down any residents of Edgar Springs that you believe are skirting their responsibility within the scope of my position and within the laws of this state.”
Wiggins compared the number of personal property forms mailed to residents in Edgar Springs to residents of the other four incorporated municipalities in the county.
In Rolla, which has a population of 19,506, Wiggins mailed out 8,290 personal property tax forms, which translates to 42.5 percent of the population.
St. James has a population of 4,204 residents, and Wiggins mailed out 2,053 forms, or to 48.8 percent of the city’s population.
In Doolittle, with a population of 628, there were 334 forms mailed out, or to 53.2 percent of the population, and Newburg, which has a population of 469, Wiggins mailed out 242 personal property tax forms, or to 51.6 percent of Newburg’s population.
James also asked the commission for assistance with improving the roads in town. She noted that in the past, the county’s road department helped chip and seal roads within the city limits but no longer does so.
“Our roads are terrible and we’re filling our potholes with gravel or concrete,” James said, estimating that it would take about $1.1 million to properly fix the roads in town.
Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp said since the county stopped doing road work in Edgar Springs, the cost of road materials “has gotten ridiculous.”
Verkamp said, “We feel your pain ... if we were to enter something like that, it might be cost prohibitive for Edgar Springs.”
Mayor Kurt Ross talked about the city’s efforts to get grants and loans for upgrades to a sewer treatment plant to meet required mandates. “Two hundred and eight people can’t come up with $600,000 to meet these mandates,” Ross said.
The mayor said he appreciates the commissioners holding a meeting in Edgar Springs and said he would like to see them visit once a quarter.
Also during the meeting, it was noted that a special election will be held Tuesday, May 21, in the North Ward of Edgar Springs for one of the alderman seats after the April 2 election for the position resulted in a 6-6 tie. The polling place at First Baptist Church at Highway FF and High Street will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. that day.
Also during the meeting, the commission conducted the following business:
Commissioners reviewed the annual financial statement for the Doolittle Rural Fire Protection District.
The commission was notified that the Rolla Optimist Club Respect for Law Banquet will be held Wednesday, April 24.
Commissioners were given notice from the state tax commission about board of equalization workshops.
The commission tabled a multi-jurisdictional agreement through Meramec Regional Planning Commission.
A revised contract with Vanguard Appraisals for software for the assessor’s office was approved to clarify language.
Several county officials and circuit court judges also spoke their about offices and what services they provide. Among those attending were Wiggins, Prosecuting Attorney John Beger, Capt. Rick Hope of the sheriff’s department, County Collector Davis Haas, County Treasurer Carol Green, County Recorder Robin Kordes, Bethany Schindler, of the UM Extension Office, and Health Department Director Jodi Waltman as well as Associate Circuit Judges Ron White and Ken Clayton.