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Cape Girardeau County commissioners discuss state legislation changes with Rep. Barry Hovis

Cape Girardeau County Commissioners spoke with State Rep. Barry Hovis during a regular County Commission meeting on May 23 about state legislative bills that related to the county government. Hovis spoke about changes to 911 funding that was approved by the state, making the county able to move forward with placing a 911 sales tax on the ballot. If they did so, they would currently have to create an elected board to oversee the funds.

The county 911 is currently funded exclusively through landline fees, which has continually dwindled. The county’s other option to add funding for 911 is to add a $1 fee for every device, including landlines, wireless phones and prepaid cell phones.

According to County Commissioner Paul Koeper, the cost to run 911 in the county is over $1 million each year, which would not be covered through the $1 fee.

The commissioners also asked about state reimbursements that should be coming to the county for housing inmates at the county jail. The state only reimburses around half of the cost to board inmates, and only pays for inmates that then go to state prisons.

“If you go to jail for a month time served, we don’t submit that for reimbursement,” Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy said. “So for the half that do actually get into DOC [Missouri Department Of Corrections], we are only getting $22.58 – which is probably half of the actual cost for us.”

Because of that, Tracy said the state is only “on the hook” for covering around a quarter of the cost to house inmates and “we are not even getting that.” Hovis said state representatives are in favor of fixing the issue.

Hovis also spoke about his “consensual rape” comment when advocating against a rape and incest exception being included in the anti-abortion legislation that has outlawed abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy.

“I spoke on that and didn’t do a good job, with no malice intended,” Hovis said during talk to the commissioners. “It’s garnered some attention that I did not want.”

In other action:

• The county commission approved participation in the Missouri Sales Tax Holiday during their regular meeting on June 3.

Certain back-to-school purchases, including clothing, school supplies and computers, will be exempt from the county’s 1 percent sales tax during the first weekend in August.

The holiday will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 2, and ending at midnight on Sunday, Aug. 4.

• A change order was approved from Penzel Construction regarding the new courthouse facility’s elevators. The original design of the elevator was not designed to carry commercial equipment like a manlift. The additional $1,660 approved will be used to add reinforcement to the elevator sill that will allow equipment, such as a 2000-pound manlift, to be hauled from the garage to the upper floors.

• Emergency Management Director Mark Winkler led a discussion at the county commission meeting on June 3 with other officials from throughout the county to assess the needs of different organizations dealing with flooding in the county. Winkler said estimates are indicating the Mississippi River will crest at 47 feet by Thursday.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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