Treasurer Elaine Gilley expressed words of caution in regards to switching banks with a state audit planned for the upcoming year by Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway and the amount of transition work that would need to occur within the next 90 days.

Camden County will be changing its banking provider after accepting a proposal from Central Bank of the Lake of the Ozarks over First National Bank, its current provider.

The decision was made on Monday, July 25, after discussion between Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty, Associate Commissioner Bev Thomas, Auditor Jimmy Laughlin and Treasurer Elaine Gilley. The Commission met with both local banking institutions last Thursday, July 20, and prior to that had received two written proposals.

“I think the general discussion of that even though we have been with First National for an untold number of years that the offer made by Central Bank was substantially to our benefit — to a minimum of about $70,000 plus per year in the amount of savings,” Hasty said. “It’s very convenient and easy for us to stay with First National, it’s a little unnerving to have to make those transitions, but when you’re talking about a minimum savings of $70,000 — you’re talking about a quarter of a million dollars over four years of this bid. I don’t think it’s any question Central made the best offer.”

Thomas agreed with her fellow commissioner, adding that both banks received the opportunity to discuss their proposals through written statements and in-person discussions.

“Not only did we accept their written proposals, we met with each of them, allowed them to discuss their proposals with us, which I think was very beneficial,” Thomas said. “I think we all listened to them. And I would have to say the same thing, the Central Bank was a better RFQ and in the interest of taxpayers, I think it’s incumbent on us to accept the best proposal.”

A request by the media for a copy of the accepted proposal was denied as the Commission said the contract was not signed by the president of Central Bank and therefore not executed as an official document as of Monday.

“They have both been in the community a long time and they both support the community well, but I think we have to go with what’s in the best interest of the taxpayers’ dollars,” Laughlin added to the discussion.

Treasurer Elaine Gilley expressed words of caution in regards to switching banks with a state audit planned for the upcoming year by Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway and the amount of transition work that would need to occur within the next 90 days.

“I just want to make a statement as the treasurer, as the person whose office this affects the most. First National has been with us through thick and thin and we’ve stayed with them through thick and thin. They’ve always served us well. I just want to say that,” Gilley noted. “I know there’s a savings. I’m hopeful if we do this change we get it done within 90 days and get the accounts set up before the audit.”

Hasty said there are times when the commission can justify accepting a bid that was not the lowest, but that inconvenience or fear of change probably wouldn’t hold up to scrutiny.

“Obviously the statutes require us to do this bidding process. I think it would be remiss of us if we disregarded the process or didn’t take the best available bid when both banking institutions are highly qualified, but one of which made us a substantially better offer,” Hasty said. “If we didn’t accept that offer we would be circumventing that entire process of the statute. There are times when there can be justifications for not accepting the best bid, but there’s none here.”

Thomas made the motion to accept the Central Bank bid and Hasty seconded it, effectively making the decision final. Associate District Commissioner Don Williams was not present for the vote.