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Sheriff appeals ruling over Cole County's use of fees

Sheriff appeals ruling over Cole County's use of fees

April 19th, 2013 in News

Cole County Sheriff Greg White is appealing a judge's ruling that the County Commission can take fees out of a law enforcement sales tax.

Last month, Gasconade County Judge John Berkemeyer ruled against White who was asking the commission be prohibited from taking administrative/professional service fees out of the county's law enforcement sales tax.

The suit was filed in 2010, prior to the new jail opening.

The voter-approved sales tax was implemented in January 2008 and, at the time the suit was filed, the commission had billed $855,084 for the fees.

Without that money being available to law enforcement, White said in the lawsuit, the county wouldn't be able to operate the new jail.

Voters passed the sales tax in August 2007 to fund and operate the sheriff's office and the jail.

White contended the commission didn't have the legal authority to "obtain, divert or cause to be diverted, request, receive or use" money taken or obtained from the law enforcement sales tax fund for any purpose other than law enforcement.

The commission asked the court to dismiss the suit and deny any of White's allegations.

The commission said White's claims were barred, since the sheriff had submitted budgets from 2008-10 "with the administrative fee" and, therefore, could not seek legal relief for the "actions in which he has voluntarily engaged."

They also contended White was aware of, cooperated in and did not challenge the assessment of the fees until he filed the suit, while the commission relied on White's previous acquiescence to the fees in determining the county's budgets for 2008 and 2009.

Clifford Cornell, White's attorney, said he had no idea how long it would take for the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals to hear and decide the case.

"We thought we had this resolved," said Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger. "It's disappointing they are spending taxpayer dollars on this. It's not costing extra money for the commission because we have an in-house lawyer working on this."