The Texas County Commission has addressed two issues that arose in recent weeks related to county government.

In its column submitted this week to the Houston Herald, the commissioners explained their decision not to pay recent inmate bills at Texas County Memorial Hospital. The group also commented on the most recent state audit results that gave the county a ‘poor’ rating.

The commission said RSMo 221.120 relieves the county of paying for medical care of county inmates. TCMH says the total is $196,744 in past due bills and had previously been paid until ceasing without notice in January 2014.

“First, the folks held at the county jail are there on state charges. They have not been convicted of any crimes and there are alternatives from the court,” the commission said, citing the ability to bond out. “Secondly, if you have a person visiting your home, they fall ill and you transport them for medical help, should you pay their bill?”

TCMH made the matter public with a news release from its October board meeting. It was published in early November by the Herald. The commission and Sheriff James Sigman did not reply to an email from the Herald seeking comment at that time.

“We feel it is irresponsible to make allegations about responsibility until such time the matter has been resolved,” the commission wrote. “We do not intend on having the issue tried in the media.”

TCMH said the commissioners have been invited to the Nov. 28 board meeting to “work on resolving the issue.” TCMH said there has not been a response. 

Commissioners also addressed the poor rating Texas County government received for its accounting procedures in an audit released earlier this month by State Auditor Nicole Galloway. It was the second consecutive review by auditors that resulted in the worst rating designation. Galloway in her report said the poor rating indicates the county needs to significantly improve operations.

“We have met with several of the elected officials, and we are in agreement to find ways to comply with most of the recommendations from the state auditor’s office,” the commission said. “We do not feel all their recommendations are relevant; however, our goal is to rise to the good or excellent rating by our next audit.”

Texas County’s commissioners are Fred Stenger, John Casey and Doyle Heiney.

PDF: Commission responds in late 2017

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