Late Bills Hammer County

No one likes getting surprise bills in the mail and county government is no exception. County Chief Finance Officer Pat Merritt informed the commissioners that the county’s bond counsel, McKennon Shelton and Henn LLP, had not sent them a bill for two years. “I’m not sure why they haven’t been billing us, but we owe $22,500,” she said.

Of that amount only $10,000 is budgeted; there are no funds for the remaining $12,500, Merritt said. She said that Public Works Director Wayne Morris also received a bill from McKennon Shelton and Henn.

A bond counsel is a lawyer, or group of attorneys, that help secure the best financial deal for municipalities, especially when it comes to municipal bonds. “We do owe it, but they (bond council) need to start billing us on a more regular basis. Some of these bills are more than a year old,” said Commissioner Ron Fithinan.

Commissioner Alex Rasin asked Merritt to talk to Morris and find out what the total amount was that the county owed and tell them (bond council) what our situation is here and that we do not have the funds. Merritt said she would return with an update.

As the meeting went on the bad financial news continued. Ron Howell, warden at the Kent County Detention Center, said that during the summer storms the center was hit by lighting which fried most of its equipment. The repairs have been made, but Howell was hoping to be reimbursed for the insurance deductible.

The total cost of repairs was $7,357.75. Howell paid the $5,000 deductible out of his operating budget and expects to receive the remaining amount from the insurance company. The commissioners approved the request and will reimburse the detention center out of contingency funds.