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Mail-in ballot tracker approved by Cape County Commission

The Cape Girardeau County Commission approved a ballot tracker to be added to the county’s election website, capecountyelections.com. The new ballot tracking system will allow voters to track the status of mail-in ballots.

Voters will be able to see if the County has received their ballot by entering their last name, birth year and a four-digit number provided by the County. “You basically get a PIN number,” County Commissioner Charlie Herbst explained.

The election website is hosted and designed by Element 74. The Commission approved an $800 programing fee to add the tracking system to the website.

In addition, the County approved additional hosting to be able to handle the higher traffic seen when election results are published. That increase in the monthly hosting fee will cost $40 per month.

Both approved costs will be paid out of the County’s election fund.

In-person absentee voting began Sept. 22 for the Nov. 3 election. County residents who are eligible for absentee voting can visit the county administration building in Jackson or the Osage Community Centre in Cape Girardeau. Those who are not eligible for absentee voting can still request a mail-in ballot by Oct. 21.

In other action:

• The county approved using CARES Act funding to purchase full body security screening systems for the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Office, the Jackson Police Department and the Cape Girardeau Police Department.

By purchasing all three at the same time, the County was able to get a discount and an extra two years of warranty for the systems. Separately, each system would cost more than $200,000. Together, the county will spend $563,572.

Commissioner Paul Koeper said the systems will limit personal contact at each location. Sheriff Ruth Ann Dicker-son added that the systems are in stock and should be installed by Nov. 1.

The Commission also approved $285,000 to Codefi, a co-working office in Cape Girardeau that focuses on helping technology-based companies to fund training programs for those who lost their job because of COVID-19.

In addition, new funding requests from Cape Special Road District (totaling $1,932) and the Cape Girardeau Area Magnet (totaling $44,983) were approved. The Area Magnet is collecting requests from county businesses to fund personal protective equipment.

Previously awarded requests have been amended, including the Cape Girardeau County Health Department (from $247,864 to $300,000), Trinity Lutheran (from $162,770 to $168,366), Delta Schools (from $101,016 to $102,542), the City of Cape Girardeau (from $275,960. to $295,242) and Southeast Missouri State University (from $308,293 to $379,021).

To date, the County has approved around $4 million in CARES Act funding. The organizations that had applications for funding approved are able to have the approved expenses reimbursed by the County.

As of Sept. 21, the çounty has reimbursed $1,295,736 using CARES Act funds. County Auditor Pete Frazier added that there is an additional $148,665 that has been spent by the County that will need to be reimbursed with CARES Act funding.

• County Treasurer Roger Hudson notified the Commission that the Missouri Department of Revenue will no longer send out courtesy sales tax rate change notification letters to businesses.

Hudson said this is especially disconcerting because the County’s new law enforcement tax goes into effect Oct. 1. He said county businesses “will be on the hook” for the tax rate increase, even if they don’t know to increase the sales tax they collect. The state will send a bill to businesses that don’t charge the new sales tax rate.

Hudson added that his office is looking into alternative ways to notify businesses of the new sales tax rate, but also encourages all businesses to check the Department of Revenue’s Web site to find their correct rate. Businesses that file their sales tax electronically will be provided the correct rate.

• The Commission approved the final payment to Penzel Construction for the new courthouse project. The final payment totaled $15,000.

• Hudson presented the September sales tax report. General sales tax and Prop 1 sales tax is up 10.12 percent for the month and 4.86 percent for the year. Use tax revenue is up 30.1 percent for the month and 36.9 percent for the year.

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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