CLAY COUNTY — More than 50 sealed boxes of 2019 assessment lists are stacked along two walls near the women’s restroom on the first floor of the Clay County Administration Building. People waiting in line to pay their taxes are passing by them.
After a call came into the Courier-Tribune on Monday morning, Dec. 30, inquiring about the records sitting in the hall, Clay County Assessor Cathy Rinehart explained that she had to get the boxes out of her office space as next year’s assessment forms will start rolling in soon.
“They are sealed and the information is online,” she said. “We have to keep them for five years, which is in accordance to state statute. They are taped shut and ready to be moved. We usually keep such boxes in a basement in the Justice Rooney Center.”
Rinehart reiterated that the information in the boxes is public information. There are no Social Security numbers in the boxes, she explained.
“The worst thing is that they are in the way in a high-traffic area where people are standing or sitting, waiting to pay their taxes,” she said. “We have filled out the requests to get the boxes moved, but they have yet to be moved.”
According to a statement from the Public Services Department, the Clay County assessor maintains that office’s records until they are properly transferred to the county custodian of records.
“In terms of their transition, we have been in contact with the County Assessor and continue to work with her office,” the statement reads.
The process for storing public records is guided by the Missouri state retention schedule, and each document has a clearly defined time frame for its secure storage.
“While the retention schedule is strictly adhered to, it is good to note that Clay County has suspended the retention schedule during the State Audit that is being conducted. This means that routine document destruction is on hold pending the close of the State Audit and will maintain all documents throughout this process,” according to the Public Services Department statement.