Every five and half years the Livingston County Commission hosts a quarterly Northwest Missouri County Commissioner Meeting of 22 County Commissions. We hosted this meeting on June 20 at the new Historic Sliced Bread Center. Each county has three commissioners, and with other guests, we had over 60 people in attendance. Our commission used this opportunity to highlight Livingston County and to show off the courthouse and the town of Chillicothe.
The commissioners were here for the entire morning from 8:30 a.m., until 1 p.m. We provided coffee and rolls in the morning and lunch at noon. Prior to lunch, we gave the commissioners a driving tour of our town’s murals and they were the first to tour our Sliced Bread Historic Visitor’s Center. We showed them the “Sliced Bread video,” which was filmed by Kansas City Public Television several years ago, in the media room in the new center. They also got a chance to view other videos and displays within the center.
As for the program, during the morning, we highlighted some of the things that our county has accomplished as a way to share ideas with them. Some of the items we highlighted in our powerpoint demonstration were:
Passing the half-cent sales tax: This tax has allowed the county to remodel our courthouse, improve the county roads, build a reserve fund, keep up with prisoner costs, partner with the city on roads of mutual interest, and help fill the deficit on supporting 9-1-1 Emergency Management -- all as promised to the voters. We presented the Commissioners with a list of the steps we took in promoting this tax, which included among other things columns, articles, endorsements, social media, flyers, radio announcements, as well as presentations to nearly 50 clubs and organizations, all in an effort that took nearly a year to plan and implement.
Passing a measure that made the prosecutor a full-time position: The county’s criminal caseload had grown to the point that our Commission believed a full-time prosecutor, rather than half time, was needed to handle the load. In our particular case, our prosecutor is paying for this additional service by his efforts to move cases through the court system as quickly as possible. Our numbers show that he gets cases dispensed in about one-fourth of the time as the average prosecutor in the State and, in fact, he is the lowest in the State, which saves us significant jail costs. This voter-approved measure did not require a tax increase.
Remodeling the courthouse: As promised, the courthouse has been remolded which included a new roof, power washing and sealing the outside walls, all new energy-efficient windows and doors, all new light fixtures and LED lighting in the courthouse, as well as some needed improvements to our electrical systems. This $1,000,000 project is financed over time with a payment of under $100,000 per year as promised to the voters.
Improvement to county roads: We have continued a program we started several years ago to partner with our 13 Townships to improve county roads. From the tax increase, we split up another $200,000 among the 13 Townships to improve one-two miles each year per Township to a higher standard (crowned road, good shoulders and good ditches), and for purchase and installation of smaller drainage tubes. This is on top of the CART Rock money from the state gas tax that is distributed to the Townships each year to help with their purchase of road rock. This year the Townships have six miles each of new road and tune-up roads at this higher standard. In addition, the county has always purchased and installed bigger tubes of over two-feet in diameter for the Townships. But with this program, we are also paying for the purchase and installation of smaller tubes under two feet in diameter, which should allow Townships to have more of their own money for additional road rock.
Courthouse security: The county has initiated a full-time security officer from the Sheriff’s office along with a metal detector. Previously this was only done on days in which court was in session. We are the fourth of five courthouses in our court circuit to initiate full-time security.
Keeping the courthouse open at the noon hour: Several years ago we had a meeting of all elected officials and determined that to benefit the public each court office needed to be open during the noon hour. Lunches were staggered so that offices are open.
Providing up to a 5% variance for local bidders: We adopted a policy that allows the county the option of giving local bidders up to a 5% variance on bids to the county. The reasoning is that our county residents pay our taxes and they need to be given some consideration on close bids. This allows the County Commission this variance if we so choose.
These are just a few of the items we highlighted in showing what we are doing in Livingston County. It was a pleasure to host the other counties and to show the commissioners the new Sliced Bread Historic Visitors Center and our beautiful murals.