The Lewis County E-911 Board will have to come up with a new way to provide emergency dispatch services for residents of the northeast Missouri county.
Associate Circuit Judge Rick Roberts struck down a contract between the Lewis County E-911 Board and the Marion County E-911 Board in a ruling issued late last week.
His reason for doing so was because the Lewis County E-911 Board repeatedly violated the state's open meetings law while the contract was being developed and finalized.
"The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrated that there was a consistent pattern of indifference to and total disregard of the (Lewis County E-911) board members to the requirements of Chapter 610," said Roberts in his ruling.
The alleged violations occurred between June 2013 through January 2014. They include failure to give notice of meetings, failure to properly record votes and failure to give notice before discussing matters in private.
"To uphold this contract would be to reward the (Lewis County E-911 Board) for the misdeeds," said Roberts.
It was during these illegal meetings that the Lewis County E-911 Board voted to hand over emergency dispatch services to Marion County.
Roberts also took issue with the way the contract was written. He pointed specifically to Marion County helping to establish the bid requirements and standards.
"It is no wonder that so few bids were made for this service when it was clear that one of the bidders had been consulted with and dictated the bid specifications when they were developed," said Roberts.
The lawsuit was filed by Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish.
Parrish requested the ruling be stayed for 90 days to allow Marion County to continue providing emergency dispatch service while Lewis County comes up with a new option. Lewis County E-911 laid off its employees and handed over its resources once Marion County took over.
Roberts, while skeptical, agreed to delay the nullification of the contract until January 10, 2015.
"It is unclear to the Court what good this stay will actually do. The corrective action is very simple, the (Board) needs to comply with the requirements of Chapter 610 and conduct a lawful meeting and enter into a lawful contract for services."