The Phelps County Assesor, Bill Stoltz gets busy, Treasurer Carol Green reviews the County Aid Road Trust (CART) fund distribution from motor vehicle fees—and it's good news. Finally, Phelps County will have an expanded, newly renovated jail for state prisoners, as Intgrity Engineering's Jack Mentink and Phelps County Sheriff Rick Lisenby share some early planning.

1. County Assessor Stoltz presents budget

Phelps County Assessor Bill Stoltz visited the County Commission this week to present his budget before the commissioners. The Assessor’s Office inventories every land parcel, taxable personal property, new construction and all taxable building improvements in the county and determines appreciated or devalued status. He outlined several activities the office will be performing in the coming year. For real estate appraisals, it includes a study of land parcel sales from 2015-2018 to calculate new cost, depreciation and a land analysis for 2019. This also involves new construction discovery with follow-up field reviews.
The Assessor’s Office is now using automated mapping via GIS for the mapping functions in the real estate assessment process. Also, the office is using the Vanguard CAMA system for real estate plot sketches and square foot calculations. This is a cloud-based server application that is available by subscription to real estate professionals and individual taxpayers. According to Stoltz, inaccuracies and inconsistencies have been in the data since the original reassessment in 1985, so his office will need to re-inventory, re-list and re-measure every structure on every parcel in the county.
According to the budget document, “We anticipate completing this task in time to “go live” with Vanguard cost values, adjusted for market conditions, for the 2021 assessment year.

Assessor Stoltz’s 2018 budget of $642,589 shows an increase in expenditures by $828. Increases in mileage expense ($4,000), education and training ($1,000), computer hardware and software ($432) and cost of producing contracts and “other” ($1,217) were offset by a salary decrease ($5,821).

The budget’s 2018 sources of revenue of $1,046,589 is collected from county general revenue, tax collection withholding and state reimbursements. Though the Assessor’s office is considered a cost for service to the county, revenue is expected to increase, $135,062 from 2017.

2. CART funds increase compared to successive years

The County Aid Road Trust (CART) fund distribution from motor vehicle fees summary was presented to the commission by Phelps County Treasurer Carol Green.  For 2017, the amount collected was $93,779.63, which was an increase from 2016 ($92,468.65) by 1.42 percent.
The total 2017 CART fund distribution of the motor vehicle sales tax was $189,276.55. That’s an increase of 4.33 percent compared to 2016’s $181,419.32 collection. Finally, the CART gas tax collection for 2017 was $667,858.63—a 1.34 percent increase from $659,030.26 collected in 2016. The current rate is 17 cents per gallon of fuel sold.

According to www.mocounties.com, the CART Funds are apportioned to counties on the basis of two factors :
    •    one-half of the funds are credited to the county based on the ratio that its road mileage bears to the total county road mileage in the unincorporated areas of the state, and
    •    one-half is credited to the county based on the ratio that its rural land valuation bears to the rural land valuation of the entire state.

3.  County commissioners approve MSI Constructors as the company to renovate the old jail

P.E. Jack Mentink of Integrity Engineering and Sheriff Lisenbe addressed Commissioners Gary Hicks and Larry Stratman (Presiding Commissioner Verkamp was out of town) concerning the bids for the renovation of the old Phelps County Jail. As reported previously in RDN, the low bidder for the project was MSI Constructors out of Springfield, with a bid of $2,033,605.00.

“I called four different references on MSI Constructors that represented 13 different projects that they’ve done over the last four years,” explained Mentink.  He said the responses to the reference requests were favorable. He added that MSI Constructors had bid on eight state projects previously and that they are on the list of acceptable contractors.

“I feel very comfortable going with the company going forward, and I recommended to Rick (Sheriff Lisenbe) that we go ahead with the low bidder, MSI Constructors,” said Mentink. Bales Construction Company from Waynesville, had the second lowest bid ($2,118,000.00), but according to Mentink, MSI Constructors had more local contractors and subcontractors designated for the project, than Bales. Examples are BBR Masonry from the Newburg area and Phelps County contractor Donald Maggi, who will be doing the site work.

“We met yesterday and just decided that this is the direction we need to go,” said Sheriff Lisenbe. “I can’t help but believe that this is going to be a positive thing for law enforcement and the county. It will be state-of-the-art.

“The next step is to issue what’s called a “Notice of Award,” and that’s basically the document that lets the contractor know that the county has accepted their low bid,” said Mentink.  MSI will need to provide proof of performance bonds and proof of insurance which includes builder’s risk insurance on the building, while they’re doing it, and give us a signed contract.”

Mentink added that the start time will be ten days once their documents are received and approved. It is estimated that the jail will be ready to be occupied by the first of September.

Though the low bid was 12 percent greater than what was originally budgeted, Sheriff Lisenbe said, “By the time you look at what we’re gaining from this and the costs involved, I think it ends up being a no-brainer.”
“We’re going to have [prisoner] expansion, which we don’t [currently] have.”

The jail renovation is paid for completely by the Asset Forfeiture Fund. These are monies collected from illegal drug related purchased property, legally seized from those engaged in illegal drug trafficking.

“I’ve tried to save some of that money over nine years for this purpose,” said Lisenbe. Previously, the Sheriff sent a jail renovation proposal to the Department of Justice and in return, received approval to use forfeiture funds for the project.