When I first began my newspaper career nearly 25 years ago, I was 25 pounds (give or take) lighter and had a mostly full head of hair.
Dark brown hair.
I also had a lot of passion for my job, which is a good thing because I didn’t make much money then.
Now, a few things are different: it seems I can’t eat anything more substantial than popcorn or I gain weight and what hair I have left is turning Santa-Claus white.
But a few things are the same: I still don’t make much money and I still have a passion for my job.
That’s why I checked in on three — count-em — three different meetings Tuesday night, even though The Citizen’s evening deadline was fast approaching.
It was a busy night, but it was exhilarating. It’s what we’re here for.
The first stop of the night came in the Village of Ferrelview, where I sat in on the Board of Trustees meeting. Normally, there’s not much going on in Ferrelview and the Board of Trustees meetings usually consist of lets-pay-the-bills-and-fix-potholes discussion. But the Board has a had a few spots of trouble the last few years or so with elected officials either a) not getting along; or b) doing something they shouldn’t be doing; or c) both.
Anyway, I was in attendance because I got a phone call earlier in the day that one of the elected trustees might be in hot water. The meeting began a few minutes late, but got started with a bang when trustee Geri Bryan came out of a closed door meeting with Board Chairman Scott Plowman and City Attorney Scott Campbell and said to a small gathering of citizens in the back of the meeting room, “Well, it looks like they want to impeach me for taking care of the Village.”
A few minutes later Plowman announced that a special meeting would be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 16 to discuss a complaint that had allegedly been made against Bryan for “purchases of materials without authorization to do so.”
For the record, Bryan added: “It was under emergency circumstances.”
Then it was back to Platte City, where I checked out the Platte County Planning and Zoning Commission’s hearing concerning the proposed Chapel Ridge subdivision just west of Parkville at the juncture of Highway 45 and Route K.
I have been to some County P&Z meetings over the years and have seen some big crowds — such as the crowd that opposed the Tomahawk Ridge development several years ago — but this one was easily the largest I’ve seen in the County Commission meeting room. Actually, it was in the meeting room, outside it and down the stairs from it.
And it was hot and not just because there were a lot of people expelling hot air. Translation: hey County officials, turn up the A/C.
Anyway, check out Citizen reporter Jeanette Browning Faubion’s front-page report for details, but here are a few of my observations.
First, the opposition to the development is impressive — they even had a guy standing at the door of the Administration Building handing out “No to Chapel Ridge” sticker badges. And they brought some firepower to the table with local-legend attorney Bill Quitmeier. And I can understand their point to some extent: they don’t want to see $200,000 homes being built near what are mostly mansions three or four times that expensive (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
But here’s a thought: the Missouri Department of Transportation and Platte County recently completed extending four lanes of new road and sunk new sewer infrastructure in the ground there. What did residents there think was going to happen with undeveloped land in that area?
Finally, I left there and walked down Platte City’s Main Street to listen in on the Central Platte Fire District’s Board of Directors meeting. I had been informed that the results of the District’s financial audit were available to the public and that the Board was going to review it.
You may recall that in the past I had written in this column that such an audit was a good idea in general because it promoted Board transparency and brought in outside eyes to look at how the District operates and spends taxpayer money.
I also noted that because the District’s tax levy does not generate $1 million or more in annual tax revenues, it is not required to have an independent audit performed. And because of that, one could make the argument that the District should not spend the money on such an audit, especially considering their books are kept by a certified public accountant.
So, here’s the cost: about $21,600, which includes Marr and Company, P.C.’s bill and the extra hours the District had to pay their own CPA to work with Marr and Company.
I will have a more detailed report next week when I’ve had a chance to go through the entire audit report, but here’s the gist of it: there was no smoking gun; i.e. somebody embezzling money or putting gas in their personal cars while using the District credit card, etc. The auditors basically said the District is financially sound and competently managed. There were some recommendations suggesting that the District should adopt bylaws instead of merely referring to state statute, that the District should make sure that banks that hold their funds are properly notifying them of security on those deposits, that the District should do a better job of making sure receipts for reimbursement are being consistently signed by an authorizing agent and that the District should relieve some of the duties of their CPA by making sure Board members open and review bank statements before forwarding to the CPA.
If you’re trying to do some quick math in your head, that’s about $5,000 and change for each general recommendation.
Money well-spent? You tell me.
So, that was my Tuesday night — except, of course, I came back to the office and penned this column and put another issue of The Citizen to bed. It was a good night.
Thanks for reading.