12:00 AM

Judy Berkstresser addresses commissioners

Stone County Commissioners have approved an operating budget of close to $7 million dollars for 2014.

In the budget, commissioner's approved a .25 an hour raise for hourly workers in Stone County government. The last time county workers received a raise was two years ago.

There were just a few minor adjustments made to the proposed budget during two days of budget meeting last week, but there were lots of fireworks between County Clerk Judy Berkstresser and Presiding Commissioner Dennis Wood.

Wood proposed that the county establish a "reserve fund" from monies to be taken from an already established emergency fund.  Wood proposed that $300,000 of the $1.3 million emergency fund be "reappropriated" into a reserve fund.  Commissioners approved that proposal.

Wood said that if the fund had been implement a few years ago the county would have been able to pay cash for the old bank building on the square that cost about $65,000.  "If  we had had it, we would have been able to save taxpayer's about $2,500 in interest last year."

Berkstresser says she was advised by someone in the auditor's office that moving or transferring money out of the fund could not be done.  County Attorney Bill McCullah says he was advised from someone in the same office that it was perfectly legal.

Both agreed that a lawsuit from one Stone County resident demanding that the money be put back in the emergency fund would probably result in the money having to be put back.

During the heated meeting, Berkstresser accused the commission of violating the Sunshine Law after Wood said he and the other two commissioners discussed the establishment of the new fund and voting in favor of implementing it without that discussion being held in the presence of someone to take official minutes.

Wood vehemently denied making the statement in Thursday's budget meeting.

The Crane Chronicle made a Sunshine Request for an official copy of the minutes and was informed there were none.


juanita foster said...

ran out of room on last comment. how dare judy berkstresser critize anyone. her husband, as assesser and john reed redrew the map of stone county that has created a mess taking 23 yrs to straighten out. denise was hired into the commissioners office because judy was not doing her duties so someone had to. i go to commission meetings, p&z meetings, council meetings ect so i heard and saw what happens. i am now asking mr stump to put his money where his mouth is and come read all the documention i have proving every word i have written. any bets he has the guts to call. or he can listen at the court precedings. juanita foster 417 830 0013 proud mother of denise dickens not asking anyone to listen to what i haveto say just come read it for yourself. my daughters not perfect but i promise you she will stand for whats right and what she believes in. i have 1 marine son, 1 army daughter in desert storm firing patroit missiles 1 army son and denise, all having served their country or county. denise has been doing the budget and financal statements for over 20 yrs and never 1 complaint. as stated whoever looked over the paper work isn't the auditor just someone judy knows. i beg and pled to anyone that doubts anything i have stated to come see me and inform yourself of the truth. expect to spend the day cause it will take you that long to read all this information i have. i have done everything i can to get judy to sue me as she has the county so many times but she does not want to go before an honest judge against me. whatever denise did or did not do did not hurt or cost the county in anyway. i have the figures on what was paid out for the sexual harrassment lawsuits we paid out each time because of her husband when he was in office. plus her lawsuit against the taxpayers. this family may not know how to spell write but we know how to do right. in GODs love i await a call or visit from anyone sincerly wanting the truth.