County Commission Meeting 4/19

The commissioners were asked why they requested $5,335.67 from the Treasurer’s bond through KCAMP and not the additional $1,130 that was mentioned in the audit. They said that since the $1,130 wasn’t directly from the period being audited, they didn’t feel they could pursue it based on the audit.

KCAMP has stated that they intend to pursue reimbursement from Susan Quick (County Treasurer).

The county was not clear if collecting on the bond would change the Treasurer’s ability to run for office. However, it appears that it doesn’t.  People running for public office are not required to be bondable to run, but certain positions must be bonded to serve. The county pays the fee for bonds for elected officials. It appears that pretty much anyone will be bondable but the cost may be much greater depending on the risk. It is unclear if the county would be responsible for the bond at any cost or if there there is a limit to the amount the county will pay.

The county attorney came to see the commissioners to ask what they intended to do with the check the received from KCAMP. Susan Quick (County Treasurer) previously asked the commissioners to send the check back to KCAMP. She suggested that the money could be paid from the Treasurer’s office budget or that the Treasurer’s office could attempt to recover the funds from the companies and individuals the underpaid.

Susan Quick (Treasurer) had told the Terri Johnson (County Attorney) that the commissioners had told her that they were required to go after the bond. Terri Johnson said there was no specific statute requiring them to go after the bond, but an argument could be made that they would not be fulfilling their duty to the county if they didn’t pursue it.

Chairman Coleman brought up the fact that Susan Quick said that these were errors from the computer. The commissioners said they wanted to be careful that they aren’t overstepping their bounds in making the claim and they also want to make sure they aren’t picking on an individual. After some discussion, they decided it was within their responsibilities and voted to go ahead and cash the check.

KCAMP told Terri Johnson that it is very rare that a claim against a bond comes in.

Angie Timi requested a speed limit on East Kansas RD because of the high speed of vehicles on that road. She was concerned about how fast people drive down the road and that there would be an accident. The commissioners voted to put in a speed limit sign on that road.

There was some discussion about properties that were annexed by the city, but feel that they have not been provided the promised city services and would like to be de-annexed. Terri Johnson has requested documents from the city showing how the properties were originally annexed to see what options they may have.

Marty found out that TWORKS would pay for the sign that was part of the request for a sign and flashing light over at Uniontown.

Brian Snyder presented a signed petition to close Willow at 135th street to try to keep people from driving out in his fields to go “off roading.”

County Receives Bond Check for $5,335.67 from KCAMP

On March 15th, the Bourbon County Commissioners received a letter and check for $5,335.67 from KCAMP in payment for lost tax interest revenue from the Treasurer’s office.  According to the letter, KCAMP is now requesting payment from the Treasurer for $5,335.67. A copy of the letter can be seen here.

As discussed previously, the law appears to require that a suit be filed to recover money from bonds. The commissioner’s decision to pursue the matter directly from KCAMP allowed them to recover the fund without the cost of of a lawsuit.

Tax Sale Scheduled for April 10th

On April 10th, there will be a tax sale in Bourbon County  and up to 29 properties will be sold.  If you want to see a list of the properties that may be sold, the properties that have been redeemed and the properties that have unpaid taxes and will not be sold in the first sale, you can view this pdf from the county website.

To bid on property, you must register for a bidding number with the Bourbon County Treasurer. You can do this as early as April 2nd.

New Weekly Newspaper

Wednesday April 4th, Bourbon County will have a new newspaper. H & H Publishing is launching the Bourbon County Review to report on local news, sports and other “reader-driven” topics.  Jerrod Handly said that plans for the paper were started due to the overwhelming community desire for a locally owned newspaper in the county.

Mr. Handly said that he recently negotiated a deal that will let him keep the printing in Kansas. He said he is going to try to keep as much of his business within the state as possible.

The paper will be printed once each week and readers can subscribe to the print or online editions.

You can get more details from the press release. To subscribe to the paper check with H&H Publishing downtown or call them at 620-223-6200.

County to Pursue Treasurer’s Bond

According to the the March 5th Commission Minutes the Commissioners voted to write a letter to KCAMP (the county’s insurance company) and request that the county be reimbursed for $5,335.67 from the Treasurer’s $25,000 bond.  It appears that this amount is the amount that was underpaid by Klein Products (plus additional) interest in Terry Sercer’s report details. We previously discussed this underpayment and pointed out that if it was a computer error, there may be difficulties recovering this from the bond. It isn’t clear (at least to us) whether or not a computer mistake in calculating interest could actually be recovered from the Treasurer’s bond.

If you read  KSA 79-1703 it says:

Except as provided in subsection (b) or as otherwise provided by law, no board of county commissioners or other officer of any county shall have power to release, discharge, remit or commute any portion of the taxes assessed or levied against any person or property within their respective jurisdictions for any reason whatever.

To recover money from the bond the county will need to show that the Treasurer “released, discharged, remitted or commuted” a portion of the taxes levied against the property. What isn’t clear is whether or not an error–particularly if that error can be shown to be caused by a computer–would fall under any of those categories. It is possible that there are other laws that come into play here as well that the county is basing their action on.

However, there was $1,130 that was “forgiven” by the Treasurer on property in order to help a real estate transaction proceed. This definitely falls within the definition of KSA 79-1703, but it doesn’t appear that this amount is being included in the request for a payout from the bond. (It is possible that the requested amount includes a portion of the miscalculated interest from Klein Product as well as the full $1,130 amount, but that seems unlikely.)

Further, the law seems to indicate that the process to recover money from the bond requires a lawsuit:

Any taxes so discharged, released, remitted or commuted may be recovered by civil action from the members of the board of county commissioners or such other officer and the sureties of their official bonds at the suit of the attorney general, the county attorney, or of any citizen of the county or the board of education of any school district a part of the territory of which is in such county, as the case may be, and when collected shall be paid into the county treasury to be properly apportioned and paid to the county, municipalities, school districts and other taxing subdivisions entitled thereto

This suggests that if the county or a citizen were to sue the Treasurer to recover the $1,130 and win then the fund would be able to be recovered from the bonds. However, if such a lawsuit were to succeed, a more likely scenario would be that the Treasurer would simply pay the $1,130. In fact, if a lawsuit were filed, it might make sense to simply pay the $1,130 unless the Treasurer thought it was reasonable to expect the lawsuit to fail. Our understanding of the public bond is not that it offers a type of insurance so the public (in this case the county) can quickly recover their fund through the bond. The bonding company still has the right to recover the fund from the person bonded.

If a bonding company has to pay out for someone once, it stands to reason that it may be very difficult to get another bond on the same individual. If someone can’t be bonded, it appears that this would prohibit them from being able to occupy a public office that required a surety bond.

According the the commission minutes, the county is not suing the Treasurer. They are writing a letter to KCAMP requesting funds from the bond directly. It is possible that there is an agreement in the bond that allows this in order to prevent expensive legal proceedings, but it appears to be a different procedure than outlined in the law quoted above.