In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:
• Gave a nod to the Barton County Landfill’s to begin collecting Household Hazardous Waste all year long. While Barton County Landfill is a fee-based entity, it is the belief of landfill management that their purpose is to serve customers to the best of their ability, said Landfill Manager Phil Hathcock. The landfill will continue to have collection days during the period of April through October, but such waste will be collected by appointment during the winter months.
Hathcock said he’s had a number of calls requesting this service. Residents had been able to haul their waste to Salina or Hays, but both of those facilities have discontinued accepting out-of-county items.
Included items include such things as paint, pesticides, herbicides, cleaners, motor oil and antifreeze.
• Heard an update on the county’s social media efforts.
• Approved occupancy agreements with the KSU\Barton County Extension Council and the State of Kansas Parole Office which are housed in the Barton County Office Building at 12th and Kansas, Great Bend. The proposed agreements, set to expire Dec. 31, 2015, allow each agency office space, as well as use of the county’s phone and long distance services. Each agency has a separate agreement for the provided space and services, Boeckman said.
There is no rent, but both entities are responsible for their phone bills and pay a portion of the utilities.
• Announced that those from the public who want to receive notices of regular and special County Commission meetings must make their requests to the County Administrator’s Office via a written request. In general, state law notes that as an open meeting requirement, a public body may require that a request to receive notices must be submitted to the body prior to the commencement of a fiscal year, Boeckman said. As the county prepares for Fiscal Year 2015, the commission directed staff to as for such notifications. Such requests would be made of the businesses and persons currently receiving announcements.
• Reappointed Dr. Edward “Dusty” Jones as the 20th Judicial District coroner. Jones’ appointment is for a four-year term, 2015 - 2018.
There were two main points made by Barton County Treasurer Kevin Wondra during his report to the County Commission Monday morning.
Number one, there was $1.9 million in collected taxes that should have been distributed in late May and early June that wasn’t distributed. The delay of these payments may create hardships for taxing entities in the county, such as townships and school districts, and delay the county’s year-end distribution.
Number two, 34,000-plus tax statements have yet to be mailed to Barton County taxpayers. The statements are normally released by now, but delays may keep them from being mailed until right on the county’s statutory Dec. 15 deadline.
However, despite the tardiness, the deadline to pay those taxes remains Dec. 20 as mandated by law.
As for the tax distribution, “I don’t know why they weren’t distributed,” Wondra said. The funds were discovered within the last week to 10 days.
Now, “the checks are ready to go,” he said. But, they had not been mailed as of Monday morning.
Basically, the Treasurer’s Office acts as a clearing house for local, state and federal tax dollars collected in the county. Under state law, the office then distributes those dollars on a pre-determined schedule.
The funds in question cover May 16-31 and should have gone out in the June distribution. “For some reason it stopped on May 15 instead of May 31,” he said.
Just over a year ago, the county switched to a system provided by Computer Information Concepts Inc. to handle its bookkeeping and business matters. The conversion was challenging for Wondra’s office and he said they are still figuring out how it works.
In theory, he said, his staff enters the date parameters for the distribution and payments are compiled. Until this incident came to light, it had been working well.
Once the numbers of keyed in, he said he and his staff have not been double checking to make sure the payments are made. “We made the assumption that everything was correct.”
In the case of the recently found money, it should have been entered into the system at a time when CIC had tech support personnel in the Treasurer’s Office, Wondra said. Perhaps, he said, the wrong dates got entered, but he had no definitive explanation.
Also, he said, he had contacted CIC after this came up and go no good answer from the company.
He has learned, however, the software has the ability to run a report prior to the distribution being made as a double check. “We were never told to run this report,” he said.
Many on the commission found this reminiscent of the problems in the office recently with unreconciled tax rolls dating back to 2012. Although cleared up now, the problems put Wondra in the hot seat and hurt the county when it came time for the annual audit.
“I’ve gotten a lot of calls complaining,” commission Chairman Kenny Schremmer said.
Commissioner Jennifer Schartz wondered out loud if this was not all part of Wondra’s job.
Wondra said his office will begin running the summary reports on a regular basis.
“Nobody here is perfect,” Commissioner Don Davis said of Wondra. “For the most part, you do a good job.”
But, there is nothing wrong with reviewing the numbers and checking up on yourself, Davis said.
Wondra said his office has 34,5000 tax statements that have to be mailed to county taxpayers. However, he only received the tax rolls on which these are based Nov. 20 due to delays in getting information from the Appraisers Office.
County Clerk Donna Zimmerman said the rolls had been delayed. Hang ups at various points along the way created a domino effect causing the information to be late.
This was a concern voiced by Great Bend Tribune Publisher Mary Hoisington who was worried about property owners and their mortgage holders. With the deadline to mail the statements being Dec. 15 and the deadline to pay being Dec. 20, that only allows five days for the mailings to be delivered and processed.
But, Wondra said, anyone can call his office and find out what taxes they owe. The number is 620-793-1831.