The Cape Girardeau County Commission appointed Ken Eftink as a trustee for the Village of Dutchtown to begin the county’s process to disincorporate the village, and maintain the area at the county level.
“Ken, with his background with municipal corporations and work history, will know the inner working of what to look for in terms of dissolving the corporation,” said Second District Commissioner Charles J. Herbst III.
Eftink is the floodplain and storm water manager for the county and has worked with the village when they were flooded.
“The Village of Dutchtown, unfortunately, has had a lot of flooding that I think has led us to this point,” Eftink said. “With the buyout program, I think there were 11 properties where people took the buyout and moved out. Of course, that was a lot of the elected officials. Dutchtown has been hit time and time again with these flood events, and it hurt the core of the community.”
Eftink said the county first received phone calls about a year ago regarding the maintenance of the flood properties.
“The county has no jurisdiction there since it’s in the Village of Dutchtown and there’s nobody elected to the village board, so there was nobody to turn to,” Eftink said. “Then there was some discussion on how they can resolve that problem—so there becomes a responsible party.”
As a trustee, Eftink will gather information about the assets and liabilities of the village and create a report to present to the County Commission before they vote to disincorporate the village.
Because there hasn’t been a trustee for a few years, the County does not know the current state of the village’s finances. Eftink said it will be his job to collect anything that might be owed to the village and to also pay any debts the village still owes. He will also determine what to do with the 5.5 acres of land the county owns because of the flood buyout.
“It’s highly restricted land,” Eftink said. “It can never be developed; it has to be open space, but they have it, so we have to do something with that.”
If the land is sold, that transaction has to be approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Eftink said he would not expect FEMA to approve a sale to an individual, and he is currently looking at other government entities that might want the properties.
“Little River Drainage District has indicated they would take those buyout lots and maintain those,” Eftink said. “It fits into their bigger plan for protecting Southeast Missouri from flooding.”
The Archive Center has also indicated that it would house the village’s documents if the disincorporation occurs. Eftink said that now that the process has begun on the county’s end, it should move fairly quickly.
“I think we wanted to move a little bit slower to give people in Dutchtown time to maybe take some action that might take them in a different direction, even staying incorporated,” Eftink said. “Since that hasn’t happened up to this point, I think we try to move forward as quickly as we can to get it taken care of. The goal would be the end of the year, unless we run into something that causes us to delay that.”
Very little will change for the village residents if disincorporation happens. A sales tax would go away, but property taxes have already stopped being collected over the past few years. Utilities, roads and police protection were already maintained outside of the village.
Another town hall meeting will occur before the County Commission votes to disincorporate the village. Eftink said that if residents want to step forward and run the village, the county could stop the disincorporation process at any time.
“If there’s an outcry by citizens who want to keep the village active, I’m sure they’ll give them time to do that,” Eftink said.