Presiding Commissioner Darrell Skiles reported that he attended the North East Regional Association of Counties meeting last week and that “We spoke extensively about Senate Bill 53.” The bill was a sweeping law enforcement omnibus bill.
According to Skiles, it is pretty well agreed among county commissioners across Missouri that one particular part of the bill is disagreeable because it eliminates county control over a budget item that each county will have to pay.
“And not a red cent from the state,. Local taxpayers will be left to pay for it,” he said.
That budget item is sheriff salary, tying it to federal judge’s salaries, which in Dent County will increase the sheriff’s salary by more than $19,000.
Skiles pointed out what he believes to be the hypocrisy of legislators.
“They passed this great Second Amendment bill this session,” said Skiles. Skiles was referring to The Second Amendment Preservation Act, which eliminates federal authority to enforce gun regulation in the State of Missouri.
“But when it comes to this, they gladly hand over authority to the federal government.”
According to Skiles, commissioners in Missouri don’t like handing over authority to the federal government.
“It’s a pretty hard pill for counties to swallow,” said Skiles. “In the years I’ve been on the commission, this is probably the most damaging thing to the relationship between commissioners and legislators that I’ve seen.”
Skiles described the legislature as “clapping their chests” in triumph and patting themselves on the back for “throwing this bone to law enforcement. Meanwhile, still including wording in the legislation that could debatably put law enforcement in danger by banning chokeholds.
According to Skiles, the Missouri Sheriff’s Association did lobby for this salary increase. But, he knows of several sheriffs who are opposed to tying their salaries to federal judges.
“Because they know that there’s only so much money in a county budget,” Skiles said. “An increase in sheriff salary will likely mean a decrease in the number of deputies.”
Skiles stated that the County Commissioners Association of Missouri has already written a letter to the governor requesting that he veto the bill. Several other counties have already drafted similar letters or soon will, he said. Skiles proposed to the Dent County Commission that they draft a letter as well. The proposal was unanimously approved and Skiles agreed to draft a letter and submit it to both district commissioners for their approval later this week.
Skiles said he believes that if the governor vetoes Senate Bill 53, the legislature could call a special session to approve a new draft of the bill with the sheriff salary portion of the bill omitted.
Also at the meeting:
• Leanne Khan came to discuss a persistent problem that she has faced on her county road (4128) for more than a year. Her neighbor has installed a fence across the road, blocking traffic from going to the end of the road, where Khan has property. District One Commissioner Wes Mobray said that he had spoken to the neighbor, telling her she had two weeks to remove the fence before legal action would be taken.
That was two weeks ago on May 24. According to Khan, who showed a photo of the gate at the meeting, the gate is still there and her neighbor doesn’t appear to be taking any measures to have the gate removed.
“Let me see what I can do,” Mobray told Khan.
Khan also stated that it seems that since the gate was first mentioned in the paper there has been more people coming up and down her road than there has been in years. Khan quipped that maybe people are coming to look at the gate to see about putting one on their county roads to see if it takes the county a year to do anything about it.
• Also, Skiles suggested that in order to, in his opinion, conduct business more effectively, the commission could consider returning to meeting on both Monday and Thursday of each week. District Two Commissioner Gary Larson was not in favor. “Once a week is enough,” said Larson. “We’re only required to meet once a quarter.”
District One Commissioner Wes Mobray said that he wasn’t against the change. No vote was taken regarding frequency of commission meetings.
• Skiles also reported that he attended a broadband meeting with MRPC June 1. The meeting was focused around the expansion of broadband connection in rural areas. “After the meeting, I spoke quite a bit with Sally (Economic Director Burbridge) about how to make that happen in Dent County,” he said.
• The commission approved fuel bids for this year with County Fuel for 1,000 gallons at $2.445 per gallon, beating Philmart’s bid of $2.54 and MFA Oil’s $2.515. Diesel bids for 7,000 gallons are being solicited.
• Mobray reported that roads 5510 and 5220 are being graded, brush hauled from along 5600 and rock hauled to 5510. Also, grader number 38 is broken down again. Mobray has someone headed to Springfield to pick up oil. Also, last week he had workers installing a new crossover pipe in Union Creek Subdivision.
• Larson reported roads 2580 and 2613 are to be graded. He also reported material/debris being cleaned out of ditches along 3220 (the golf course road). “We’ve already hauled out 27 loads,” said Larson. “I expect just as many to come out yet.”
The next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. June 14.