In the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? one of the characters hears thunder in the distance and simply says, “Sweet summer rain.” I am currently splitting time between the keyboard at the kitchen table and the deck, where I am hoping to enjoy some of that “sweet summer rain” instead of a violent monsoon style rain.
A few items of interest that the Commission has been working on are below.
• Preparations for the hard surfacing of roads is in full swing and the priming phase will begin later this week as the aforementioned rain allows. For the next several weeks, the County will see a noticeable increase in construction traffic relative to this operation. I want to again remind folks to take note of signage and flaggers while also paying particular attention to posted speed limits in construction zones. In addition to the immediate savings we will recognize by reducing our gravel expenses, the conversion of gravel roads to a hard surface will eventually allow us to eliminate at least one grader territory. At about $275,000 a pop to purchase a new motor grader, the long-term savings will be significant as well.
• The Commission continues to explore the possibility of re-classification from 2nd to 1st class. The statutory requirements are numerous, and while the change is inevitable, we want to make sure that we are fully prepared and fully aware of all of the changes that accompany the transition before we make the decision. One particular facet of the change relates to the disbursal of Road and Bridge Property Tax and municipalities. Under 1st class statutes, 25% of the tax collected within corporate limits will be disbursed to the municipality for the maintenance of roads within those limits. While this means a decrease in the funds available to the County, I see this as a positive change overall, as it will give the municipalities a welcome boost in their road budget which benefits everyone. We are in the process of estimating these amounts to gauge the expected impact of that change when it occurs.
• There has been some discussion lately regarding the accounting method employed by the County. While the current cash method complies with the laws of the State of Missouri, the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) prescribes the use of the accrual method. In conversations with counties of similar size, the modified accrual method seems to be the most popular choice. Like the decision to move from 2nd to 1st class, the change in accounting method will require preparation and research to make sure that the transition is as seamless as possible. However, the ultimate determination of the accounting method rests with the County Auditor per RSMo 55.150. The statute goes so far as to state that the Auditor has the authority to make such choices WITHOUT the approval of the Commission. This is another example of the checks and balances that are masterfully interwoven throughout Missouri statutes.
That’s all I have time for now. As always, call, e-mail or stop by the Courthouse if you have questions. Until next week…