Katt missed golden opportunity to show he wants to resolve conflict PDF E-mail

An already strained working relationship took another hit last week regarding a nine-month search to retrieve data from the county’s GIS server.
Hamilton County commissioners learned that surveying information, gathered by county surveyor Duane Katt and contract work through Katt Surveying, is in fact still available, though not on the county-owned server where it was stored. It took several frustrating months and more than $1,500 in computer repair bills to reach that conclusion.
Rather than resolve the problem of missing data and put this situation behind us, however, Katt threw another wrench in the works. Katt admitted that he would be able to retrieve 95 percent of the lost information from his company’s flash drives, but only for a fee. Recovering those files, he explained, would require one of his employees to review each drive and put the needed files in a usable form.
Something seems inherently wrong with this picture, from several perspectives. It seems clear, from a legal standpoint, that the data in question does not belong to Duane Katt, acting as the county surveyor, or Katt Surveying. The research was paid for by Hamilton County taxpayers, and logically should be considered property of the county.
Katt could have, and should have, stepped up to the plate and recognized that fact, free and clear of any other feelings he may have toward the county board. It has been well documented over the past year that Katt is not happy about the way the county has conducted business, either in his area involving survey work or with the county roads department. He publicly suggested a recall election and has also threatened litigation against the county board, all the while continuing to work as county surveyor.
From the outside looking in, citizens have been left to scratch their heads trying to make sense of this ongoing conflict.
A state auditor report shed some new light on the subject, noting a number of potential conflicts with the way Katt was doing business. Among the items listed were a possible violation of the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Act and a suggestion that Katt, in his capacity as county surveyor, should not be the one to inspect the work of his own company.
In an attempt to get a broader understanding of the survey issues from a budget perspective, commissioners conducted a survey of 12 Nebraska counties which revealed that the range of pay for survey work in those counties was between $8,000 and $65,000. Hamilton County will pay Katt and Katt Surveying a combined $87,774 this year, though he submitted a budget request of more than $103,000. Those numbers just don’t make sense.
In February, Katt and his attorney addressed commissioners directly regarding the state auditor’s report, admitting that a billing mistake had been made. He also expressed a desire at that time to clarify his working relationship so that both parties could move forward in a positive direction.
Katt had a golden opportunity to put those words in action last week, restore some trust with commissioners and if nothing else show that he wants to build a better working relationship.
It was disappointing to hear that he offered no help in making that information available at no or at least reduced cost to taxpayers.
Kurt Johnson

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