The disagreement rages on.
A potential legal battle looms over whether the
statute of limitations has expired on the unconstitutional
pay raises that were accepted by two Platte County
Commissioners back in 1999.
The unconstitutional pay raises were accepted
by Michael Short, currently serving out his term
after being defeated in the August Republican
primary by Tom Pryor, and Diza Eskridge, who was
defeated in the 2000 general election by Steve
Short and Eskridge accepted the mid-term pay
raises following legislation that was later deemed
by the Missouri Supreme Court to be unconstitutional.
Some officeholders in other counties who took
the mid-term raise have repaid the money. Short
and Eskridge have declined to do so.
Platte County Auditor Sandra Thomas has been
the most outspoken proponent of having the money
given back to the county. It would amount to about
$19,000 each from Short and Eskridge. Platte County
Prosecutor Eric Zahnd recently issued a statement
saying he also believes the money needs to be
Last Friday, the Platte County Commission issued
a press release stating it is rejecting Thomas'
request that the salary increases be returned.
Short and Eskridge say they hired the Kansas
City law firm of White, Goss, Bowers to render
an opinion on the related statute. The opinion
issued to them, according to the press release,
says the statute places a three year limit on
any cause of action such as the one requested
by the auditor.
Thomas, however, says legal counsel she has obtained
has a different opinion.
"Finally Short is now conceding that the
pay raise he and Eskridge received was unconstitutional.
Now he is merely trying to rely on a legal technicality
to try to escape his obligation to the taxpayers
of Platte County," Thomas said this week.
According to Thomas, the Missouri Attorney General
has issued a legal opinion that says a five year
statute of limitations applies to lawsuits over
compensation paid to public officials . The Missouri
Supreme Court has also saidin a case in
Moniteau Countythat a five year statute
of limitations applies to disputes over compensation
of public officials, Thomas points out.
"Short is also wrong about when the statute
of limitations begins to run. Until Jan. 1, Short
and Eskridge constituted a majority of the county
commission. Only the county commission can sue
for the repayment of the pay raise. I believe
that since Short and Eskridge refused to vote
to collect the unconstitutional pay raises from
themselves that the statute of limitations does
not begin to run before the time that Eskridge
left office," Thomas explained this week.
In noting a three-year statute of limitations,
Short's legal counsel references a case involving
the City of Velda.
"The auditor's motives are clear,"
Short said. "This is a political issue she
and her supporters chose to use in the August
primary campaign against me. They waited to raise
the issue until such time as it would have the
most political impact. It is pure partisan politics
at its worst.
He added: "If Sandra Thomas was really concerned
for the best interests of Platte County, as she
claims, she would have taken action years ago
when the issue first arose," Short said
Thomas, however, can supply copies of emails she
sent to commissioners in past years requesting
action on the repayment of the unconstitutional
In any event, there seems to be no immediate
end to the argument.
Thomas said the advice she received from counsel
in regard to the statute of limitations in this
matter being five years, not three as suggested
by Short and Eskridge, is preliminary. She told
The Landmark this week that she is expecting a
written opinion on the matter "within a couple