FRED STENGER, JOHN CASEY, DOYLE HEINEY
Hey folks! It has been a while since we have published a Commissioners Corner. We have several requests to continue this practice and feel privileged to be able to give our residents another option for what is happening throughout the county.
Recently I’m sure some of you have heard soundbites that we will not recognize, as there are many half-truths and some outright lies.
Now on to the business at hand, 2017 has been a challenging year for most folks, and the county is no exception. The commission has met these challenges and will continue to work hard for our citizens. We did have some major victories — some began in late (December 2016) with the reissuing of our bonds for our justice center that were approved by the voters 10 years ago. These bonds at the time had a particular interest rate. By negotiating we were able to have the bonds reissued at a much lower interest rate. The significance of this resulted in a savings in excess of $1.3 million for the taxpayers of Texas County.
We also put in place a set number of dollars that require an annual payment that remains the same for the remainder of the bonds life (10) years. In addition the bonds are illegible for reissue in five years should the interest rates fall below the rate at the time we reissued the bonds in December. We were very impressed that the bonds were only on the market for a very short period of time and were purchased, by in large, by financial institutions, which represents the buyers’ confidence in your local county government.
On the economic development side, Texas County commissioners worked with other local officials in getting a large expansion of one of our local businesses. Dairy Farmers of America had a choice of expanding in Texas County or Phoenix, Ariz. By utilizing our enterprise zone and other incentives, we were informed DFA had decided to expand their operation in the Cabool plant. DFA projects a $60 million addition in construction to facilitate this expansion.
The projection for additional employees has been established somewhere between 40 and 60 new positions with high wages plus benefits. We were honored to be part of this project on behalf of the folks in Texas County.
The Sheriff Deputy Supplemental Salary Fund was approved for another year. These monies are a result of some monies from the paper service to be sent to an account and the dividends, etc., are returned to our local law enforcement folks as a supplemental wage for certified law enforcement.
The result has been we have only lost one deputy who resigned to go to Howell County Sheriff’s Department. Through our budget process we were able to give a modest wage increase to all of our county employees. New vehicles were purchased for our road patrol deputies. Two new 4 x 4 side by sides and trailers were purchased for search and rescue operations paid for by Title 3 funds. A vehicle was purchased and put in service as a Mobile Command Unit. This should allow our law enforcement folks to have a place for additional equipment in the field, for example, radios and chargers, laptop computer, heat for the winter weather and air conditioning in the summer. This allows for better conditions for strategies and evidence preservation to be formed to better control scenes and allow better conditions for assisting agencies who are used for some major investigations. We still struggle with our board of prisoner bills not being paid by the inmates for their housing and keep. Healthcare has been established via a contract with Advanced Healthcare, which has reduced our exposure to medical care for the detainees incarcerated at Texas County.
Another savings contract is the contract for food services. ln 2016 the county spent in excess of $100,000 in food and supplies. Our food contract allows for nutritional meals and a considerable savings to our taxpayers. The county only supplies one county employee; the remaining employee cost is part of our existing contract.
Our prosecuting attorney’s office gained a part-time attorney, which we feel should make our judicial system process cases quicker and more efficiently. Our prosecuting attorney and his staff have performed exceptional. Many challenges are constantly present with the judicial system.
We anticipate exploring ways to reduce our costs in regard to IT. The technology continues to change so rapidly it is hard to keep up with the changes. A person or company with technology skills in both hardware and software, on the surface appears to have many huge advantages.
The county’s property valuation increased this year to reach in excess of $59 million. We will have to address percent of collection issue in the very near future.
We are exploring the impact the lnternet sales are having on our county’s sales tax revenue. The commission will be taking part in a regional discussion in an attempt to find ways of increasing our sales tax revenue stream via lnternet sales tax being collected. Since our sales tax revenue has fallen to more than $60,000 from a year ago, we must find ways to increasing revenues to avoid any loss of services provided by Texas County.
The state auditor’s office conducted a mandatory audit for the departments of Texas County. The recommendations provided by the auditor’s office are being examined and some recommendations have been put in place.
Volunteers are always needed. Texas County currently has a very important position available. Our most recent emergency management director resigned to relocate to another state. We are actively seeking a person to replace and fill this position. The position’s importance was evident during our last flooding disaster and requires a lot of communication with our regional, state and federal agencies. Coordinating disaster exercises are very important to make ready for when a real incident should take place. Anyone interested is urged to submit a resume to the Texas County clerk’s office for review by the commissioners.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER FRED STENGER AND ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONERS JOHN CASEY AND DOYLE HEINEY