Mystery meeting concerns Clay County taxpayers; $130,000 attorney fees uncovered

CLAY COUNTY, Mo. – A mystery meeting in Clay County interrupted important taxpayer business Tuesday and infuriated the head commissioner.

Presiding Commissioner Jerry Nolte posted on social media Monday after he learned about a special executive session on Tuesday.

Nolte said fellow commissioners Luann Ridgeway and Gene Owen called a special session without his knowledge, and until the meeting started Tuesday, beyond the subject “Real Estate,” he could only guess the subject matter.

On Tuesday afternoon, he voted "no" to go into executive session.

“The reason I'm voting no is because I have not the first idea of why we're having this meeting," Nolte said. "I know it's under executive session for real estate. I have not been informed what the specific issue is. I think this is a bad way to government, and I think we are ill-serving the people of this county."

It was held in the Commission Room, which was already in use for Board of Equalization hearings. Many property owners have been contesting increased value assessments.

This special meeting booted those folks out of the room.

Citizen Lisa Keefer tried to get answers as the executive session began. From the podium, she said, “Gene and Luanne, excuse me. OK, Jerry you're the only one. This is ridiculous."

Nolte was worried that Tuesday’s private meeting would involve a decision about a possible new $20 million annex. It’s something many have spoken out against. Nolte also said this could’ve been handled Monday when all the same players were already in a meeting.

“I don't think there would've been any problem going into executive session and doing this same thing roughly 24 hours earlier and avoided attorney fees including drive time," he said.

Speaking of attorney fees, FOX4 uncovered new bills this week -- more than $130,000 worth, all paid on a credit card.

Tuesday’s executive session lasted about an hour. Per Missouri Sunshine Law, the outcome won’t be made public for at least 72 hours.

Nolte did say “the annex is still an active issue."

"The annex is still under consideration. It is still something we have discussed, and something I'm sure we'll be discussing in the future.”

The next commission meeting is August 12.

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