Two Clay County commissioners don’t show, leaving dozens with unanswered questions

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LIBERTY, Mo. — The Clay County Commission was called to a special meeting Wednesday night, but no official county business could be handled.

Two of the commissioners didn’t even show up.

“The point behind a special term session is to deal with business that is of an urgent nature to the county,” Presiding Commissioner Jerry Nolte said. “Tonight’s issue was to establish a better funding mechanism for the clerk’s office so that she can properly staff the Board of Equalization and people can have the best opportunity to appeal their property tax assessments.”

The head commissioner can call a special term session, but in order for it to become an official meeting, there must be a quorum. At least one of the other two commissioners needed to be present for that to happen.

Commissioners Luann Ridgeway and Gene Owen didn’t attend Wednesday’s meeting. Nolte adjourned the meeting that couldn’t happen.

About three dozen citizens showed up to the Woodneath Mid-Continent Library, so Nolte instead spent the hour and a half opening the floor to discussions about increased property assessments and how homeowners can appeal them through the county clerk and the Board of Equalization.

Property owner Les Roark said his property value went up 31%. Even though he doesn’t plan to appeal that, there are others in the county he’s worried about.

“We’ve got senior citizens that may not have the ability or the knowledge to pursue having their properties reassessed,” he said.

It’s why he showed up Wednesday night, hoping to hear discussion among the three commissioners about properly funding and staffing County Clerk Megan Thompson’s office.

Roark was disappointed the special meeting couldn’t happen.

“I think it’s unfortunate,” he said. “I think we have two county commissioners that unfortunately don’t want to be held accountable directly for their actions, and this is how they do it. They avoid the issues.”

The county is in the middle of an audit by State Auditor Nicole Galloway. After her office issued a subpoena for records, the county sued her. A judge overturned that and ruled the audit will continue. The next hearing among attorneys is scheduled for June 17.

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