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Judge: Assessor must pay county for computer service

Cole County Senior Judge Byron Kinder has ruled in favor of the County Commission in a dispute with County Assessor Chris Estes over payment for computer service in his office.

In his ruling this week, Kinder said the 2012 assessor’s office computer and information services expenses of $39,411 are to be paid from the county assessment fund into the county’s general revenue fund.

Kinder also found that the commission is legally authorized to perform that transfer of funds.

He also denied the assessor’s petition for a permanent Injunction and dissolved the temporary restraining order previously granted in this case in January.

Estes’ office was without computer service Jan. 2 after the disagreement with the commission.

On Thursday afternoon, Estes said he plans to appeal the ruling and hopes the computer service for his office can stay on while that process takes place. But if he has to pay the bill, he said, he will so the public can still be served.

Estes said he had an e-mail from the state tax commission which stated it was the tax commission’s position that assessment fund money must be used for assessment purposes, and administrative fees for things like computer services, charged against the assessment fund, are not authorized by state statute.

Commissioners said computer service is provided by the county to offices with their own funding and administrative fees are paid to avoid duplication of services and save taxpayers money.

“We were, and still are confident in our position,” said Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger. “We will hold him to pay for this out of his own pocket.”

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