Cape County to accept resumes for courthouse planning

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Cape Girardeau County Commission approved a motion Thursday to advertise for architectural firms qualified to assist with long-term courthouse planning.

"Part of our job as county commissioners is to plan for the future," said Commissioner Paul Koeper, who initiated a discussion Monday about engaging architects to help address problems with existing aging structures and to possibly plan a new courthouse.

The county will advertise for resumes from firms with specific expertise in helping government entities create effective court structures. Koeper and County Clerk Kara Clark Summers estimated the advertising would cost around $200.

Koeper said the county will narrow the responses down to two to three firms and consult with them about the level of improvements or construction desired. After a review of formal drawings and proposals, a final candidate will be selected for contract. He said it could take five to 10 years to get to the point of having a plan ready for taxpayer approval.

The ultimate costs are unknown, Koeper said, but one option for funding the project would be to use money from the refinancing of county jail bonds last October. The county saved $150,000, and the money, slated for capital improvements, became available Nov. 15.

Sales tax ruling

In other business, the commission received a notice announcing a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that "local sales taxes cannot be levied on out-of-state purchases of motor vehicles, trailers, boats and motors." The ruling took effect Wednesday and applies to sales from dealers and individuals.

Before the ruling, local and state sales taxes were collected on out-of-state purchases at the time of registration. In Cape Girardeau, the tax rate is 7.975 percent, which includes at 2.75 percent city tax and 1 percent county tax added to the state rate of 4.225 percent. Now, only the state tax of 4.225 percent will be levied on cars bought out of state and registered in Cape Girardeau.

"This puts local dealers at a disadvantage to out-of-state dealers," Koeper said, giving the example that buyers will be able to cross the border into Illinois and save a significant amount. On a $20,000 purchase, $750 could be saved by buying outside of Missouri.

The ruling will also affect the sales tax funding available to support county entities, he said.

Metal detectors

Randy Barnhouse spoke to the commission in support of allowing responsible hobbyists to use metal detection equipment on county property. Last week, the commission declined a request to scan the Jackson courthouse grounds.

Barnhouse, a retired Cape Girardeau County teacher, said he hoped the decision last week would not eliminate permission for "detectorists" to pursue their interests in other municipal and county areas, such as public parks. Barnhouse pointed to a code of ethics that encourages responsible practices such as obtaining owner permission and careful stewardship of scanned property.

"If someone can tell that you've been there, you are not doing a good job," Barnhouse said.

Barnhouse also said detecting could potentially benefit residents by finding lost items and help law enforcement by providing assistance in searching crime scenes. He said that there is not a local association of detectorists, but that one could form.

Commissioner Jay Purcell said he understood the interest in metal detecting but that the county had to make decisions about public property keeping in mind the few who don't follow ethical practices.

Koeper said there are no regulations against metal detecting in the Cape Girardeau or Jackson city parks, nor in Cape Girardeau County parks and that Barnhouse's comments would be taken into account in future policy actions. Purcell said he would present the matter to the parks board, as elements of the county park such as unmarked historical grave sites must be considered if private individuals are allowed to disturb the ground.

Extra expense

The recorder of deeds office encountered a setback during renovation requiring additional bids. In December, $20,000 from the jail bond refinancing was approved to replace worn-out carpet, level the floor, paint, change lighting and rebuild the counter to make it accessible to the disabled. It was discovered that the floor in the recorder's office, highway department and commissioner's office was laid over a ramp that had been leveled with dirt and covered with a non-load-bearing slab. Over time, the soil fill has settled, creating a depression below the floor. Bids from local "mudjacking" companies will be solicited by fax. Stabilization and replacement of floor coverings in the three offices is expected to add $10,000 to $15,000 to the project.

salderman@semissourian.com

388-3648

Pertinent address:

1 Barton Sq., Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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