The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

October 16, 2012

Jasper County Commission adopts resolution on handling of sheriff’s account; item not on meeting agenda

CARTHAGE, Mo. — A resolution to govern the handling of a disputed sheriff’s office fund was approved Tuesday by the Jasper County Commission, though action on the measure was not listed on the notice for the commission meeting.

The fund was the subject of disagreement between the commission and Sheriff Archie Dunn at a meeting a week ago. Both Dunn and Bill Fleischaker, his attorney, said they would have attended Tuesday’s general session if the matter had been listed among items scheduled for action in the notice of the commission’s meeting.

There was no entry on the commission agenda listing the issue or any action on the resolution.

“I don’t see how they could take it up; it wasn’t on the agenda,” Fleischaker said.

John Bartosh, presiding commissioner, characterized the matter as “unfinished business.”

Norman Rouse, attorney for the commission, drafted the resolution that was unanimously approved by the panel.

“My position was that it was posted last week at Fleischaker’s request, when he made his pitch on how it would be handled,” Rouse said. “The commission took it under advisement, and ruled today.”

Fleischaker said he believes action on the resolution that was not on the agenda is a violation of the Missouri Open Meetings, Open Records Law. But, he said, he is in a trial this week and will not have an opportunity to raise the issue with the panel.

Under provisions of the law, public governmental bodies are to give notice of the time, date and place of each meeting, and “its tentative agenda, in a manner reasonably calculated to advise the public of the matters to be considered.”

The agenda did list other items, including presentations by Rob O’Brian, president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, and by Circuit Judge Gayle Crane.

The commission earlier, on Rouse’s advice, had directed the bank to close the fund used for charitable projects of the Sheriff’s Department, including the annual “Shop With a Deputy” program.

Fleischaker a week ago said the money is donated to the sheriff’s office, and decisions on how it is spent are made by a committee of department employees. He asked that the money be turned over to a new not-for-profit he had formed so workers could start making plans for Christmas projects. When he and Rouse could not agree on how the fund would be administered, the commission took the request under advisement.

“This is not county money; it’s money donated for the use of the employees and projects they choose,” Fleischaker said.

The resolution approved by the commission calls for money in the account to be used for the purposes designated in the earlier account, with $23,291 to go to the “Shop With a Deputy” program in which deputies shop with low-income youngsters; $3,171 for the sheriff’s office Christmas Party; and $1,780 for breast cancer awareness projects, from coins sold by employees.



Resolution

THE RESOLUTION SPECIFIES that money will be spent only when a written request by the sheriff is made to the auditor, and that checks issued by the county treasurer will go to the supplier and not to the sheriff’s office or sheriff’s employees. The County Commission can review the requests and reject those it deems not reasonable or necessary.

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