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Candidates Observe Limitations And Power Of County Commission During Meeting

With Second District County Commission candidates Randy Ruzicka and Tony Ritter sitting in on last Thursday’s Ste. Genevieve County Commission meeting, Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson took time to explain and give some background on several of the items the commission dealt with that day.

One was the county’s Hazard Mitigation Plan. Earlier in the month, Nelson had been angered to learn that a grant the county had applied for was being held up because the county’s emergency plan had not been submitted to the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) by the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission (SEMO RPC).

The commission had passed a resolution adopting an updated plan on October 10, and county emergency management director Felix Meyer had hand-delivered a copy to SEMO RPC personnel on October 31.

After voicing frustration over the situation, the county received an apology from SEMO RPC. Thursday it was learned that the plan had finally been received by SEMA personnel.

Nelson also touched on some things the County Commission must do and things it cannot do.

One thing the commissioners reluctantly voted to do was pay $225 to cover legal fees of a county resident who had been declared incapacitated and disabled and who had gotten in legal trouble. A judge had ordered the payment. Nelson called the new state law requiring this “another unfunded state mandate.”

Another bill the county was legally required to pay was $1,860, or 15 percent of the $12,400 costs for the 24th Judicial Circuit’s drug court. This was mandated by Circuit Judge Wendy Wexler Horn.

One thing the commission does not appear to have the ability to do, Nelson told the candidates, is  buy equipment for the Ste. Genevieve County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Bob Eckenfels, soil and water conservation district chairman, had approached the commission about the possibility of it coming up with funds for a no-till seed drill. The district would then rent it out to individuals.

Nelson said while he knows of another county that has helped fund its district, attorney Ivan Schraeder has advised the commissioners that it would not be appropriate. It would probably be flagged during the district’s financial audit.

“We take pride in getting clean audits,” Nelson said.

“It’s not in the budget,” Second District County Commissioner Joe Gettinger said. “Where do you grab the money from?”

“We’d like to help everybody we can,” Nelson said. “We do when we can do it feasibly.”

See complete story in the March 4 edition of the Herald.

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