The Jail Annex project has officially started, Jerome tries to get a storm siren and the State Department of Revenue may be shorting Phelps County this month for sales and law enforcement tax revenues.

1. Old jail renovation officially starts

The 210 day countdown began Tuesday, January 23, for MSI Constructors, from Springfield, Mo.  to start the renovation of the old jail. PE Principal Jack Mentink , of Integrity Engineering, the company that designed the new jail, proposed two letters for the county commissioners to sign. The first served as a courtesy letter and permit for the Mo. Department of Natural Resources and stated there was no asbestos in the building (removed three years ago). The second was a Mo. Department of Revenue form that relieves contractors of paying sales tax for materials used in the project. Basically, they are using the tax exempt status of the county, said Mentink.
“I imagine that there is $700,000 to $800,000 worth of products that contractors and subcontractors will be buying,” said Mentink. “What it does, is save you money.”

2. Jerome attempts to purchase storm siren with grant

Doolittle Mayor Paul Smith dropped by to present a letter of support to be signed by the commission for their help in acquiring a grant for $24,000 for a new storm siren in Jerome. Smith said that currently, when the City of Rolla activates the storm siren network, it is activated in Doolittle, as well. “We can still activate it independently from Rolla.”

3. Sales and law enforcement tax received from DOR is circumspect

Phelps CountyTreasurer Carol Green presented the rolling twelve month local sales and law enforcement sales tax for January. This amounts to $183,221.97 and $137,416.91 respectively. Both are down 30.4 percent from last year’s numbers, leading the treasurer to believe the state is not over their backup in tax payments—a problem noted the last quarter in 2017. The explanation for this was the Department of Revenue implemented a new tax system in September of 2017, to which a supplemental payment was made to the county on 12/14/17 to catch up with the lag in processing county reimbursements. Treasurer Green was surprised this issue has not been resolved—not with a negative 30.4 percent variance.
“Another month of this going on and it will be the time to sit in Senator Brown’s office,” said Commissioner Larry Stratman. Treasurer Green said the letter she received explaining the supplement last year and the letter she received recently, sounded contradictory.
The second letter stated:
The December Sales Tax Distribution Check Notice is titled “Account History.” In that table, the amount listed for December 2017 represents the amount of both the supplemental and the regular distributions that the Department of Revenue sent you for the month of December. These distributions were sent out on December 14, 2017 and January 8, 2018, respectively.
“The amount of money listed under “Amount Deposited” reflects the amount that the Department of Revenue collected on your behalf and distributed back to you on January 8, 2018.”
As the treasurer mentioned, the only problem is that the amount is an uncharacteristic negative 30 percent difference from last year for both taxes.