Callaway County looking at moving from Class 1 to Class 2 county

Callaway County officials are in the very early stages of understanding a possible change in Callaway County’s classification from class 1 to class 2.

The Missouri legislature uped the total assessed values for the levels of classification in 2010, increasing a class 1 county’s minimum total assessed value from $600 million to $900 million. The legislation, House Bill 1806, also states that a county will change classification after going through a five-year waiting period.

“No county shall move … from a higher class to a lower class until the assessed valuation of the county is such as to place it in the other class for five successive years,” the bill states.

Callaway County’s total assessed value, which is measured by the consumer price index (CPI-U), in September 2013 was $773.77 million, according to Western District Commissioner Doc Kritzer.

Kritzer explained that the legislative change is standard as the value of counties across Missouri increase over the years. The 2010 legislation, he said, unpurposefully singled out Callaway County because it is the only county in the state to be affected.

“It’s moving faster than what we are as a county,” Kritzer said.

Aware of the 2010 legislation, Kritzer said the commissioners had not worried too much about the switch with the hope of another Ameren nuclear reactor being built in the county, therefore maintaining Callaway County in the class 1 category.

“We thought, ‘We’ll meet the criteria again,’” Presiding Commissioner Gary Jungermann said.

As the end of the five-year waiting period looms, commissioners and prosecuting attorney Chris Wilson have now started researching what the potential change means for Callaway County.

Jungermann said the commission has asked the different county offices to do their homework and evaluate the “pros and cons” of each class 1 and class 2 requirements.

A portion of road and bridge taxes would no longer be required to go toward Callaway County cities. Currently, 25 percent of road and bridge taxes — which equals about $100,000 — are given to county’s cities. Fulton uses the largest chunk of that money, Jungermann said, as it receives about $60,000.

Jungermann also said the prosecuting attorney position would be a part-time job, but voters could chose to keep it at full-time. With an increase in homicides over the years, Jungermann said his hope would be to keep the prosecuting attorney on full-time.

As a class 2 county, Callaway would be required to hire a coroner.

Callaway is currently under contract with the medical examiner’s office at the University of Missouri. Medical examiner’s are preferred, Jungermann said, because their evidence and knowledge is more scientifically based.

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