Commission May Have Final Authority On Contracts

The Crawford County Commission’s attempts to have new software installed in the office of Assessor Kelli Vestal took on another twist November 19 when officials revealed that a revised statute may give them final say.

Chapter 50.660 says that all contracts shall be executed in the name of the county and by the head of the department or officer concerned, except contracts for the purchase of supplies, materials, equipment or services other than personal.

This, the commission believes, could allow them to override Vestal’s decision to stick with Governmentor as her assessment software.

During the November 5 meeting, the commission was prepared to sign a contract with DEVNET and replace Governmentor. DEVNET is used in the collector’s office and would theoretically provide a seamless transition between the two offices.

However, Vestal has rebuffed the commission’s attempts to move away from Governmentor. She has been insistent that the software is functional. 

When commissioners read RSMo. Chapter 137.395 and told her that statute gave them authority to decide the software, Vestal said it did not apply to a third-class county like Crawford.

Vestal was backed up by Prosecuting Attorney David Smith, who verified that morning she was correct.

Vestal told commissioners she had already signed another agreement with Governmentor. Later that day, Presiding Commissioner Leo Sanders contacted the Independent News and said the commission had signed a maintenance agreement for October.

The commission produced that document November 19. It was signed by commissioners October 17 for $245. 

The final page of the document had a line with Vestal’s signature and an empty line, presumably needing to be signed by the presiding commissioner.

In the two weeks that had passed, Sanders said that Smith met with Vestal and Collector Pat Schwent to go over the differences between their offices.

The commission provided another revised statute — RSMo. Chapter 53.073 — which says that the assessor must furnish to the collector a list of real property transfers in third-class counties.

Schwent said Governmentor cannot provide real-time real estate transactions, so when property is transferred after September 1, the collector’s office isn’t notified. This can cause unnecessary penalties and interest for taxpayers.

Vestal said that Schwent was offered a data dump when the collector’s office switched to DEVNET in 2012. She also said that if Schwent wanted real-time transactions, she should go back to Governmentor.

However, Schwent has been able to introduce different features to taxpayers through DEVNET, including payment plans and online payment.

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