County moves forward with Annex project in closed-door meeting

Despite public opposition to the project, the Clay County Commission is moving ahead with a new annex after hiring construction management firm Project Advocates Tuesday, Nov. 26, to oversee the work. Opponents of the project say a new facility is a waste of taxpayer dollars and that the current Annex location, 1901 NE 48th St. in Kansas City, which houses satellite locations for the county assessor and collector as seen here, could be remodeled and updated for the county’s growing needs.

Editor’s Note: This story originally published online Dec. 2. It has been updated to reflect the contract has not been signed.

This summer, County Auditor Victor Hurlbert told commissioners he believed the county’s contract to buy the land for the new facility at the intersection of Missouri Highway 152 and North Brighton Avenue in Kansas City was nonbinding as his office didn’t certify the associated expenditures. County Treasurer Bob Nance said his office would not release payment disbursements without the auditor’s certification.

On Dec. 2, Hurlbert said he spoke with the county’s legal counsel related to the Annex project and was told because funds for the project and other county updates were done as certificates of participation, they do not have to go to the auditor’s office for certification.

Hurlbert contends county administrators and the finance department have circumvented his and the treasurer’s office when it comes to expenses related to COP projects.

“They’ve set up a system via the county finance department and administration where these invoices for COP projects like the Annex do not go through our offices for certification like all other accounts payable do. We would absolutely take a closer look at things, but unfortunately, with the system they set up, we can’t,” said Hurlbert.

A call to the county’s bond counsel firm by the Courier-Tribune was not returned.

Treasurer Bob Nance said disbursements related to COP projects are now being made through the finance department and his office doesn’t seem them until after they are made.

“We just see things after they’ve done things,” he said.

While listings of county expenditures for 2019 through September are posted on the county’s transparency portal, it is not immediately clear which accounting reports are associated with the Annex project. Requests for clarification from the county have yet to be returned.

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