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Two billboards outside Lake of the Ozarks lead to ethics woes

Two billboards outside Lake of the Ozarks lead to ethics woes

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Lake of the Ozarks

People frolic at  the Lake of the Ozarks. (Missouri State Parks)

JEFFERSON CITY — A turf war between two community college districts in central Missouri has landed one of the schools in hot water with state election regulators.

At issue was a bid by Ozarks Technical Community College to build a campus near the Lake of the Ozarks.

Officials at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, which had served the lake area for three decades, opposed the move.

In the lead-up to the June 2 election, both colleges bought billboards urging voters to either back or reject a proposal that would have raised taxes in the region to pay for a new OTCC campus.

“You Have a Dream, We Have a Plan — Ozarks Technical Community College,” one of the billboards said.

“You Have a Dream, We Have a Plan, Without Raising Your Taxes — State Fair Community College,” the other noted.

Officials at State Fair, however, failed to insert a line on the billboard noting who paid for the ad, which is required under the state’s campaign finance laws.

The Missouri Ethics Commission also found State Fair officials hadn’t added a similar line to a question-and-answer page on the school’s website.

Under an order signed July 24, the college was fined $100.

The push for bringing a campus to the lake area was led by school, city and business leaders.

State Fair pushed back, saying it would continue to serve the lake community without a tax.

OTCC’s bid to build a campus in Camdenton, about an 80-mile drive from Sedalia, was shelved after voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to join the taxing district.

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