Presiding Commissioner Darrell Skiles reported Monday during the regular meeting of the county commission that he visited the Capitol in Jefferson City last week to express concerns regarding a law enforcement-related Senate Bill that the house added specific language to regarding the salaries of county sheriffs.
State judges salaries have been fixed by the state for a number of years. In 2018, the Senate and House voted to tie the prosecuting attorney’s salary to be a certain percentage of the judge’s salary.
“County commissioners have seen this proven to be bad for their counties,” said Skiles.
The current law-enforcement bill includes language that would do the same thing to the sheriff’s salary as well as putting a minimum number of $72,500 for the position.
“This creates some pretty serious budgetary concerns,” Skiles said. According to Skiles, especially for classification three counties (those with a valuation of greater than $600 million but less than $900 million, which is most of the counties in Missouri, including Dent.
Skiles expressed that he is not alone in this concern. Other county commissioners have expressed similar concerns to both Skiles and their respective representatives and senators.
Skiles said that he doesn’t believe the state should be making that financial decision for the counties.
“I have spoken to several commissioners,” he said. “One of their concerns is that there’s only so much money in the county coffers, and it’s going to cost some counties deputy positions."
Skiles did commend District 143 Rep. Ron Copeland for his attempt to soften the blow to counties by adding language to the bill that would allow for the salary adjustment to be able to take place over the course of five years if the change is $10,000 or more.
“It’s quite impressive that a freshman representative was able to get something like that on to a bill,” he said, but Skiles still was not pleased. “I told him that if I ever hear of anybody who needs help putting lipstick on a pig, I’d give them his number.
“It makes no difference whether we just get one big dump truck of manure all at once, or a pick-up truck load once a year.
“It’s not that we have any problem with raising sheriffs’ salaries.”
According to Skiles, he and many of his commissioner colleagues believe that the legislature has no business telling the counties how to spend their money.
Skiles was not pleased when the bill ultimately passed through the House on Thursday. The bill is now in committee and will have to return to the Senate due to the changes that the house made to the bill.
“I think there’s a good chance of them killing the whole bill,” said Skiles. Which according to him is a shame because it had some good things in it as well.
Skiles indicated that he was discouraged by how little most representatives seemed to care.
Also at the meeting:
• Brett Hoffman with Missouri Eighth District Congressman Jason Smith’s office attended the meeting. Hoffman told the commission that Smith recently visited the U.S. border with Mexico in order to see firsthand what is going on down there.
“It’s really more of a crisis than media coverage might lead us to believe,” Hoffman said. According to Hoffman the border is a big topic of discussion in Washington right now.
• District One Commissioner Wes Mobray reported that brush will be removed from county road 5600 and material will be hauled to 2470 and 2480 where new pipes will be installed. Mobray also stated that he had crews out checking for rain damage in the Bunker area.
• District Two Commissioner Gary Larson reported that 3260 and 2110 will be graded and the last of some Missouri Department of Conservation rock will be used and then submitted to MDC for reimbursement. He also has a man going to Springfield to get oil and chip and seal.
• Treasurer Denita Williams reported that year-to-date revenue for the county is nearly $450,000 down for General Revenue and Law Enforcement Sales Taxes combined. That’s more than 58% down compared to last May, which was to be expected considering the $1.7 million held by the Department of Revenue this year for DOR’s error in tax payments. That said, May income for both of those Sales Taxes was up by more than $18,000 compared to last May, at $86,319.73.
• The commission also held a closed session meeting with Missouri Association of Counties Attorney on retainer Travis Elliott to discuss the latest developments related to the DOR withholding of sales tax. The commission voted 3-0 to authorize Elliott to prepare and file an appeal with the Administration Hearing Commission, regarding DOR sales tax.