Two new people were appointed to the Crawford County Senior Citizens Tax Board at the commission meeting held on Thursday, December 27. Although the current board had recommended the reappointment of current members Kathy Jaycox and John Taylor, neither had submitted an application nor were present at the meeting to express their interest in the positions. Instead, Donald Gummershemeimer and Jim Huddleston both offered to serve and were given the seats.
Huddleston, acting as county treasurer, first presented a handout showing the funds disbursed to the tax board for 2012, with an additional notation that $52,163.08 will be rolled over to 2013. “They insist on carrying over approximately $50,000 a year, and I know the money could be used. The big thing is, with these boards, they can’t borrow, but they need to distribute what they have.” He also noted that he had seen some questionable expenses for items such as mileage and flowers for funerals. “This is tax money for people who are 60 and over,” he said.
Shirley Reed, who serves as administrator for the Golden Echoes Senior Center in Steelville, questioned why the money was being held. “The big question is why they keep the money and don’t distribute it,” she said, noting that money has been held over for many years, instead of being given to the entities that could use it.
Huddleston noted that the board controls where the funds go, but Gummersheimer questioned why the budget didn’t simply include the rollover amount. Gummersheimer also questioned statements that had been made by the board to the effect that changes to their budget couldn’t be made and therefore the additional funds could not be disbursed. He asked whether the county could amend its budget through the approval of the commission and County Clerk Mardy Leathers affirmed that.
Gummersheimer responded, “The reason I’m upset with the board is there was a meeting in October where providers (organizations that accept money to provide to senior citizens) asked that, if there was money left over, they could do supplemental disbursements. They said they couldn’t do that because they couldn’t amend their budget. It got me upset when all they have to do is sit there and say, ‘We have $52,000,’ and use it.” He noted that he had previously served on a school board, so he knew how simple the amendment process was.
Leathers pointed out that the tax board had been advised of the simplicity of the amendment process and said that the county had expected a budget amendment from them, but hadn’t received it.
In October, attendees at the tax board meeting had been told that the group would contact the state and look into the process, then hold another meeting in two weeks time, but that was never scheduled. The next meeting is currently set for February 11, 2013.
Gummersheimer told the commissioners, “You are governing board above them, so you can set down rules for them. One that I would like to see followed is that there is a training session for all board members, not just new ones, so everyone is on the same page. The board, to go forward and to be functional, needs training and I think it’s the commission’s job to see they get it.”
Associate Commissioner John Hewkin questioned what resources are available to provide training to the tax board. Leathers noted that Sunshine Law training is easily accessible and Gummersheimer said that the kind of training he wanted to see would simply consist of ensuring that each board member had a copy of the board’s by-laws and copies of the Missouri Revised Statutes that apply. Carol Krassinger, the sole member of the tax board in attendance at the commission meeting, noted that she had not received any information after her appointment, and when she had asked questions at the tax board meetings, she had been shunned.
Huddleston concurred with Krassinger and added, “They don’t seem to follow any rules of order in their meeting. They put her down right away.”
Presiding Commissioner Leo Sanders, turned to the question of seat appointments for the board, and asked the room full of people if there were applicants among them. After a short pause, Gummersheimer responded, “I would like to be, but I have a dilemma. When I accept a position, I’m a 100 percent person, but I can’t make the first meeting next year on February 11, and that’s the most important because it’s when (disbursements to the senior citizen service organizations) will be made.” There was discussion of whether that meeting date could be changed, but no conclusion found, other that it could be requested.
Huddleston then stated that he would be willing to serve on the tax board, but that he currently was a member on the Golden Echoes board. Reed encouraged him to resign that position to serve on the tax board.
Hewkin noted that the positions had been advertised and Leathers reported that he had sent letters directly to Jaycox and Taylor to ensure they were aware that they needed to apply to be reappointed, but had not received a response.
Sanders asked Huddleston and Gummersheimer to state their reasons for wanting to serve on the board. Huddleston stated that he believed the board should be fair and equitable, and shouldn’t hold onto money. “If they give me an application, and if we have money on hand, we give it. By the end of the year, we shouldn’t have more than $1,000 to $2,000. You know what you have, you give out to a certain point.”
Gummersheimer stated that he would be honored to serve, but reiterated his concern that the board would not change the date of the February meeting and it was the most important of the year. He went on to restate that he’d served on a school board and understood how boards should function. “I’m active in the community,” he added, and noted that he might have to disengage from some of the work he currently does with Golden Echoes as well. However, others at the meeting pointed out that there might not be a conflict of interest as past members of the senior tax board had been involved with the Cuba Senior Center.
After their statements, Hewkin made a motion to appoint Gummersheimer and Huddleston and Sanders seconded the motion for approval (Associate Commissioner Richard Martin was not present at the meeting).