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County receives clean audit report

Photo by Jay Forness

Cape Girardeau County received a clean audit report from Stanley, Dirnberger, Hopper & Associates. The audit, which covered the county’s financial transactions during 2023, was presented by Stanley, Dirn-berger, Hopper & Associates’ Patrick Kintner on June 27.

The county ended 2023 with $76.5 million in reserves, with around $45 million dedicated to large capital projects such as the Cape Girardeau County Jail expansion, renovations of the historic 1908 county courthouse and construction of the new emergency operations center.

Kintner said the county’s growth has been impressive, with tax revenue more than doubling over the past decade. The county’s tax revenue, including both property and sales taxes, increasedfrom $15.8 million in 2024 to $34.4 million last year.

A major change in the county’s tax revenue over the last decade was the addition of the law enforcement sales tax approved by voters in 2020, which added $9 million annually in tax revenue, but Kintner said the increase was also due to growth across all tax revenue.

“We’ve seen continued growth in our taxes, even without the additional law enforcement tax,” Kintner said. “We had steady growth in Prop 1 and all the other sales taxes throughout the county.”

Law enforcement spending has increased since the new tax was implemented, with public safety spending growing from 32% to 42% of the county’s expenses over the past four years.

General county expenses, which cover most county offices, dropped from 35% to 28% of the county’s budget from 2019 to 2023. Road and bridge spending has stayed relatively consistent, dropping slightly from 22% to 20% of the county’s expenses over the same period.

Kintner said the county had no operational issues concerning the audit, adding that the county had improved its documentation procedures significantly over the past few years. His only advice was to make sure all department heads were aware of the county’s procedures regarding federal grant funding, so everything is documented from the beginning of the process.

In other action:

• Commissioners approved a new speed limit of 40 mph on county roads 330 and 335. Speed limits on county roads are 60 mph unless otherwise stated. The commission received petitions from property owners on the two county roads asking that the speed limit be lowered.

As part of the approved ordinance, new speed limit signs will be added at the beginning and end of the roads. Commissioner Paul Koeper said the county may also add additional signs due to the length of County Road 335.

Public hearings were held on the speed limit change on June 13, June 17 and June 20. The only public comment was about other county road safety issues, such as adding center-line road markings and additional stop signs, with no opinion about the speed limit change.

• The commissioners approved a tax abatement application for Trussworks LLC, which is building a new truss manufacturing facility in Jackson. The new facility is located in the county’s enhanced enterprise zone, which provides a 50% real property tax abatement for 10 years with the creation of new jobs.

• The commissioners approved an additional $91,943 payment to the Missouri Association of Counties Trust for workers’ compensation insurance this year. The county had previously approved a $481,484 payment for 2024 worker’s compensation insurance in November 2023.

Koeper said last year’s estimate was off due to wage increases compared to last year. “The sheriff’s office was able to hire a lot of people and give increases in salaries, so it went up quite a bit from when we first looked at it in the fall of 2023,” Koeper said.

• The commissioners approved a $42,000 purchase from Missouri Vocational Enterprise for new furniture to be used at the 1908 county courthouse currently under renovation. MVE will provide new tables, credenzas, desks and chairs for the county offices that will move into the historic courthouse in Jackson.

Commissioner Charlie Herbst said the majority of the work will be done for conference rooms and the highway department, which will have more space after the move. He said MVE will also provide the chairs in the commission chambers.

• The commissioners approved a $7,807 landscape design bid from Willingham Outdoors for landscaping design and material for the 1908 courthouse lawn in Jackson. Willingham Outdoors was one of two bids, with the county also receiving a bid from Cassi Bock Landscaping.

The bid includes new trees and flower beds for the historic courthouse. As part of the bid, Willingham Outdoors will provide the materials and county staff will install the new plants.

• The commissioners renewed its contract for juvenile detention services with Stoddard County. Herbst said the county contracts with both Mississippi County and Stoddard County for juvenile detention services. As part of the contract, Stoddard County charges the county $95 per day for juvenile detention services.

• The county collector’s delinquent land tax listing will be published in The Cash-Book Journal for three weeks, starting July 17. The CBJ had the lowest bid for publication, with the Southeast Missourian also bidding.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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