Why Am I Running for Re-Election?
I am proud of the accomplishments of Boone County during last six years. Those accomplishments include maintaining 800 miles of roads, building and staffing a new 911 Center and new Emergency Management Center, creating a Children’s Services Department, establishing a Veterans Court, creating hundreds of new jobs with good pay, balancing the County budget in line with fluctuating revenue, and keeping County employment competitive with the City of Columbia and the University of Missouri. But there is much more left to do. I have the skills and experience to continue as your Presiding Commissioner with a steady hand, an eye to innovation, and a commitment to advancing the future of Boone County.
My Goals for the Next Four Years
Jobs & Economic Opportunity
- We have continuing work to do in finalizing agreements with Aurora Dairy, American Outdoor Brands, and Northwest Isotope to complete the bonding process and implement performance agreements establishing wage levels, diversity goals, and tax abatement arrangements. My goal is to insure fairness and avoid any circumstances under which these programs could cost taxpayers money.
- We need to improve our techniques in maintaining 400 miles of gravel roads by altering the material mixture to allow for longer use of road materials and reduce dust. An innovative test of new mixtures and application technique is now being performed on Little Bonne Femme Church Road.
- We need to be a strong voice in making I-70 and Highway 63 priorities for improvement should an increased State gas tax be enacted.
- We need to take steps to reassure residents that public safety is the highest priority throughout the county. We must equip our Sheriff’s Department with the personnel and support to do the best job possible. We also need community conversations and input to address the underlying issues that often lead to the need for law enforcement. Among such efforts should be ensuring jobs with a living wage at all skill levels, facilitating affordable housing, and promoting available transportation and other employment support measures. As other counties and municipalities struggle with these issues, we need to borrow proven solutions and promising programs in adapting them for Boone County.
- We need to work with our cities in all aspects of public safety, including the need for affordable housing and transportation options. While this is not usually seen as a County responsibility, it is our duty to be good working partners with our cities in solving these problems.
Improved Revenue Opportunities
- In the Wayfair decision the United States Supreme Court recently authorized the collection of tax on internet sales in certain circumstances. What the Missouri State Legislature does to implement this opportunity is of major importance to the County of Boone as well as to all of its municipalities and taxing entities. Boone County should continue to make its interests known as the legislature determines if and how such tax will be implemented. The gasoline tax on the November ballot is another timely issue of major importance to local government that deserves full County support.
- Given the rapid changes and growth that our County has experienced, a new county Master Plan could provide a pathway forward—not as a year-by-year prescription of County activities or as a lengthy visioning process—but rather as a point-in-time acknowledgement of citizen consensus or divergence of opinions about what our County should look like in 2025. The value of a Master Plan would be enhanced by ongoing 5-year “re-looks” or updates that would assess changing circumstances, altered growth patterns, and current citizen input. The beauty of a county like Boone with its educated population and broad citizen expertise is its ability to envision the future, then make the future happen. As Presiding Commissioner, I am proud to be one small cog in the Boone County wheel
- Boone Hospital is an important County asset. While the Hospital is governed by the Board of Trustees, it is the current management lessee (BJC) who is responsible for nearly all of the day-to-day decision-making. The County through its Commission has a huge interest in ensuring that quality medical services are kept available for county residents and that the asset is protected in a way that supports that interest. Rapid changes in the delivery of healthcare services along with the reimbursement mechanisms to hospitals from health insurers and the federal government, e.g., Medicare and Medicaid, have caused a great deal of financial uncertainty among small, rural, and community hospitals. As a county-owned hospital, BHC must forge a new pathway forward. Such changes will force Boone Hospital to adapt and must be taken into account as the Trustees assess how BHC moves forward post-2020 as the current BJC lease expires. Under the current Request for Proposal (RFP) the Board of Trustees will evaluate the options proposed by interested potential managing entities within the next six months. While the Commission does not have a vote on the Board of Trustees, it will be the job of the County Commission, with the data available to us at that time, to approve or disapprove any action involving the sale or lease of BHC as recommended by the Trustees. Boone Hospital is known for its top quality medical services and every effort will be made to maintain that reputation.
Central Missouri Events Center
- To understand the Commission’s rationale in temporarily closing the Events Center, it is important to remember that: (1) the maintenance of the barns, utilities, and other infrastructure was not kept up either by the Agricultural and Mechanical Society or by the County after purchasing the land at the request of the Society; (2) by 2015 the structures and utilities were not safe or usable by large event crowds and needed substantial investment to be brought up to safe, usable standards; (3) a private group was sought to enter into a lease as part of a pilot program to determine the efficacy of the location as a self-funding and updated events center; (4) even with a $200,000+ subsidy from the County in each of three years, the private leaseholders could not financially sustain it; (5) the County could not in good faith continue to devote more than $200,000 annually to the Center and voters were therefore asked to pass a 1/8¢ sales tax to fund upkeep and operations; it failed by more than 2 to 1; (6) Veterans United then stepped in to lease and maintain portions of the Events Center for their own use and to help upgrade the facilities as part of the leasing arrangement; (7) the Commission continues to search for a financially stable solution to management of the Event Center, including the possibility of partnership with private or public entities; (8). The Commission has released a request for proposals that may result in options that have not previously been discussed; (9) until a mutually beneficial arrangement can be worked out, the agreement with current tenants provides a positive cash flow for the County; and (10) meanwhile the land itself serves as a sound investment in our county’s future.
- The Commission continues to seek financially viable, long-term solutions to operation of this County asset. A new Request for Proposal (RFP) was recently released with a submission deadline of January 8, 2019 for long-term lease of the land, buildings and facilities by a single or multiple vendors. The contemplated 50-year land lease would allow the lessee(s) to benefit from any construction for the length of its full economic life. The RFP does not prescribe the use of the land. Rather than limit the scope of how the CMEC might be redeveloped, it is the Commission’s intent to entertain all proposed concepts while evaluating benefit to the public, compatibility with the surrounding area, lease price offered, and relative experience of the offerer in carrying out the intended plan. This process, I believe, allows for the best use of the land while retaining county ownership of this valuable asset.
Day-to-Day Management of the County
- Economy and efficiency will remain driving forces in everyday management of the County. Flat revenue combined with inflation and increasing demands of a growing population require careful stewardship in order to provide adequate services to the public. Competent, experienced leadership of the County Commission is a critical component of a successful future for all Boone County citizens.