Democratic Callaway County Presiding Commissioner Lee Fritz on Tuesday night said Callaway County may be forced to move from a first-class county to a second-class county in five years because the county's assessed valuation won't be high enough to remain a first class county.
Fritz's comments came during a question and answer session at a candidates forum at Mid America Bank in Holts Summit. The forum was sponsored by the Holts Summit Community Betterment Association, the Kingdom of Callaway Chamber of Commerce and the Fulton Area Development Corporation.
"I would hate to see our county revert to a secondclass county," Fritz said. He said it would affect many things, including the salaries of county officials and even the county's ability to set speed limits or deal with abandoned vehicles.
Gary Jungermann, Republican candidate for Callaway County presiding commissioner, said the county's prosecuting attorney no longer would be a full-time job if Callaway became a second-class county. "We have a full-time county engineer, but a second-class county would not have one," Jungermann said.
Jungermann said some cities in the county also would receive less money in some instances if the county reverted to second class.
Chris Wilson, Republican candidate for prosecuting attorney, said the clock is running on the change to second class county status. If nothing changes in five years, the shift will occur automatically. Wilson said he believes the county needs a full-time prosecuting attorney.
Leah Williamson Baker, Democratic candidate for prosecuting attorney, said she agrees that the county needs a full-time prosecuting attorney.
Also appearing in the forum were the candidates for county clerk, circuit clerk and county recorder of deeds. Running for county clerk are Republican Denise Hubbard and Democrat Edna O'Neal. Seeking the office of recorder of deeds are Republican Christine Kleindienst and Democrat Gabe Craighead. Candidates for circuit clerk are Democrat Curtis Lee Quick and Republican Judy Groner.
Fritz said he believes it has become very difficult for the county to work with the CAMPO organization because Jefferson City has six votes and is able to outvote all of the other cities, including Holts Summit and Callaway County. "We are left out in the cold." he said. He said this is unfortunate because CAMPO handles some federal funds.
Jungermann said he would do what he could to help to resolve the problem with CAMPO.
On the issue of county planning and zoning, Jungermann said he can see both sides of planning and zoning. Jungermann said planning and zoning can be good if administered in the right way but he also can see dangers if it is administered the wrong way.
Fritz said the issue of planning needs to be placed on the ballot for the people to decide. He said now people must first decide with a vote if they want planning and then a plan will be developed. Fritz said he would prefer to have a plan in place first and place that before the people for a vote.