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Jefferson County avoids government shutdown

HILLSBORO, Mo. – In just a 20-minute meeting, the council made the changes that needed to be made to prevent a government shutdown.

However, that did little to ease the drama that erupted from this situation.

Within two days, Jefferson County auditor and a counselor turned in their resignation letters in relation to budget issues.

The auditor alleged the dilemma put him in an unethical and illegal position. Some are calling it politics, while others say it would’ve been a county crisis.

Either way, for the time-being, Jefferson County will not be involved in a government shutdown as the council amended the budget.

“This is nothing more than a clerical error that we’ve had time and time again that we correct,” Council Chairman Don Bickowski said. “To make some type of political hay out of it is probably not the best day for Jefferson County.”

Word from County Executive Ken Waller on Thursday that the county is in crisis mode had many workers wondering if their paycheck would be direct deposited.

“There’s nothing political about this,” Waller said. “All I care about is making sure that the bills are paid and people are paid whenever their pay week comes up!”

It’s that type of financial uncertainty that forced Health Center CEO Susan Curfman and her board into a panic.

"There’s already been conversations with our board about what does this mean and how do we continue to serve services in the lack of payment,” Curfman said.

Following the county council making the amended changes Friday afternoon, Curfman is relieved now she can go on with business as usual.

“Oh, let’s just say I’ll sleep tonight,” she said. “This is the best news!”

Now that the smoke is cleared and the budget is passed, regardless of politics county leaders are hoping to put this past them and move forward.

“I look forward to working with the executive on what we can do from a budgetary standpoint,” Bickowski said.

“You just have to deal with the problem at hand,” Waller said. “You do the best you can and you get things taken care of and that’s what we did tonight.”

Immediately following the meeting, Waller says he went back to his office and signed off on some documents so money will continue to be distributed.