It’s been an exciting week as we held our first pre-construction meeting of the season, and the new bridge on Bunker Hill Rd. will be starting in mid-May. Hopefully many more projects are to come this summer, so please slow down when you see workers on the roads.
A few items of interest that the Commission has been working on are below.
• I want to give an update on the hospital tax. It is important to stress that Lincoln County still owns the hospital facility, which is operated by the Mercy system. Your tax bill includes 2 separate levies for the purpose of servicing the debt. For 2017 the levies were Hospital Maintenance .1583 and Debt Service .1113. The Debt Service levy will still appear on your tax bill in 2018 but will be retired April 1, 2019, so the end is in sight. The Hospital Maintenance levy, which is currently being applied to 2 bond issues that will be paid off on August 1, 2021, and August 1, 2022, respectively, is required by Missouri statute as long as the County owns the facility. As debt is retired, an adjustment in the levy might be made, but that remains to be seen. Love the hospital or hate it, the County had received no offers to buy it when we entered into the agreement with Mercy. The alternative was to board up the facility, put local people out of work, and continue to collect the same tax as we are now anyway to service the debt.
• As a follow-up to my article 2 weeks ago regarding the powers of County Commissioners, I would like to clarify that the Commission is a 3-member body and no single member has the ability to unilaterally issue mandates, especially when it comes to how other elected officials run their office. Once the budget appropriation has been made, each elected official has great latitude in how they spend their funds, whom they hire, etc. Furthermore, there is no statutory authority to withhold budget funding from a particular office. While the Commission has the authority to cut budgets, there are even statutory restrictions as to the extent to which this can be done and in some cases cuts are specifically forbidden. As the Presiding Commissioner, my duties are in some ways similar to the Mayor of a city in that I only get to vote in the event of a tie between the other two Commissioners. My signature is required on all contracts, but I can only sign what the Commission as a whole has given me the authority to sign. If you research the statutes, you will find that there exists a thorough system of checks and balances.
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…