County, District Spar over Surtax

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WARDSVILLE - Cole County Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger said Wednesday he does not consider Blair Oaks School District latest surtax agreement draft to be a serious settlement offer.

Blair Oaks sent the counter agreement to the county on April 29 after finding what it calls "non-negotiables" prevalent in the county's surtax agreement.

Last year, the county discovered it had misappropriated more than 4 million dollars worth of taxpayer's money, overpaying some taxing entities--including Blair Oaks--and underpaying others.

The district said it questioned Cole County in 2007 about the amount of money it was receiving, and that the county reassured the district it was the correct amount.

But the county now says the school district owes more than $600,000, but Blair Oaks said if the county had investigated the issue when it was brought to its attention, the school district would only owe about $175,000.

But Blair Oaks isn't the only tax authority that received extra money.

Jefferson City School District and Cole County both received more money than they should have over the last 20 years.

Community members in Wardsville said they don't believe the children should have to suffer from a mistake that was not the district's fault.

But Ellinger said the district has reneged on a great majority of what it had already agreed to when the two parties were close to reaching a settlement last December.