816 North

Clay County dismisses lawsuit over wall

Updated: 2013-04-02T18:29:38Z

By GLENN E. RICE

The Kansas City Star

The Clay County commission has dropped a lawsuit to recoup money spent on removing a wall that separated county auditor workers and clerk staffers.

Then-County Auditor Vic Hurlbert and former County Clerk Pam Mason had ordered the 16-foot-long, 10-foot-high divider built in the Clay County administration building after work hours in 2006. The county sued Hurlbert, Mason and others in September 2010 in an attempt to recover what officials claimed was about $9,700 that was spent to demolish the wall.

Mason, who was elected presiding commissioner in November 2010, abstained from the vote to drop the lawsuit in January.

“This was a frivolous lawsuit that wasted hard-earned taxpayer dollars,” Mason said.

Hurlbert could not be reached for comment.

In its dismissal of the lawsuit, the county wrote that said it actually cost only $257.12 to repair the public property.

Ridgeway said was not in the best interest of the county to pursue legal against Hurlbert and Mason.

“It was an appalling waste of the taxpayers’ money,” Eastern Commissioner Luann Ridgeway said of the lawsuit. “It was a bad waste of taxpayers dollars yesterday and it will be a bad waste of taxpayer dollars in the future.”

The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, meaning it can not be refiled, she said.

When commissioners filed the lawsuit, Mason was in a heated contest against Ed Quick, the Democratic incumbent, for presiding commissioner. Mason easily defeated Quick.

Among its claims, the suit said Mason and Hurlbert failed to follow state laws and county procedures to purchase materials and hire workers, entered into illegal contracts, circumvented the 2006 budget approved by the County Commission and paid less than prevailing wage for a public works project.

Hurlbert and Mason denied any wrongdoing.

To reach Glenn E. Rice, call 816-234-4341 or send email to grice@kcstar.com.

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