For a body that handles big issues and big bucks, they're sure having trouble with the obvious.

The Scott County Board of Supervisors does not keep a comprehensive record of its meetings. County Auditor Roxanna Moritz takes notes, turning them into the shortest possible summary to meet the state's requirement of publishing minutes. Those are her orders.

But the board does not make a recording of its votes, discussions or debate.

When Moritz earlier this month specifically asked for a record of her opposition to a new policy, her request was shot down. Worse, supervisors went out of their way to erase it.

Supervisors voted to increase credit card limits on county-owned credit cards from $500 to $2,500, and Moritz objected, saying the 259 cards that are in county employees' hands already create an opportunity for problems.

"Post-purchase review of expenditures allows inappropriate spending of public money and requires recoupment of those funds," Moritz wrote in a letter to the board on Jan. 9. "It can lead to disciplinary issues for employees who misuse purchasing cards, issues which can be avoided without the program.

"The expansion of the program by upping the purchase limits only makes worse these fundamental problems. It does not make sense to my office to expand the risk for Scott County by raising the monthly limit for most of these cards."

Moritz isn't most miffed that supervisors went ahead with the increase. She's correctly concerned that her opposition was deleted from the record. The board voted 3-2 on Jan. 11 to remove her remarks from the meeting minutes from the 9th.

The motion was made by Supervisor Carol Earnhardt, who was not available last week to explain her position. But supervisors Brinson Kinzer and Diane Holst voted against the removal of the county auditor's concerns and said they've been asking for years for the board to get better at keeping records.

The absence of modern-day record-keeping is not a new concern for county leaders.

Moritz pointed out that a former supervisor pushed for video-recorded meetings in 2004. When Moritz herself served on the board in 2006, she also pushed for recordings.

When Kinzer and Holst were elected in 2015, they said, they also urged their fellow supervisors to get cracking on a way to record meetings, so citizens/taxpayers would have a way to keep track of actions and policies by their elected county officials.

"I'm all about recording," Kinzer said Friday. "Taped minutes are normal to me. Every small town records. When I was mayor of Blue Grass (2010-2014), we always recorded meetings."

Ditto for Holst.

"That was an interest Brinson and I took up when we got on the board," she said.

So, what's the holdup?

"I don't think there was a willingness to have only an audio recording," Holst said.

But isn't that better than nothing?

"I couldn't agree with you more," she said.

Instead, the board looked into something far more elaborate, she said, studying a system in which audio from meetings would be synced with the online agenda. And there was concern about the fact that the microphones on the dais aren't recording-ready.

So, no recordings.

"A simple audio we could put on the web page would be a very easy fix," Kinzer said.

"We could just record and upload an Mp3 file," offered Holst.

But it would appear by the removal of the county auditor's concerns about credit cards that transparency and full disclosure are not priorities here.

Moritz said she was told that her remarks were removed from the minutes because she did not include in her notes the remarks made by some supervisors. But, if that was the case, why not ask to have their comments added, rather than having hers erased?

"I don't want anyone saying, 'Why didn't the auditor catch that (a potential credit-card issue)?'" she said. "I wanted my opposition on the record. I think it shows how the board feels about the public."

So, for now, Moritz intends to take matters into her own hands. She said she will take copious notes, and it will be up to the supervisors to gut them.

”I, as the record keeper, know no minutes are kept, and because of that, I wanted to make sure my feelings about the (credit card) issue were on the record, not just in passing," she said. "This is exactly why minutes and recordings should be kept at all public meetings — accountability.

"People expect transparency today. They don't think they have to ask for it."

And they definitely don't expect to be intentionally cast into the dark.

Contact Barb Ickes at 563-383-2316 or bickes@qctimes.com.

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