Ransdall appointed to $80,000 state economic development liaison post
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Posted: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 7:42 pm
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Feb. 10, 2010) — Former Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall now has a new job, but it pays $25,000 less than the Missouri State Tax Commission post to which Gov. Jay Nixon had appointed him.
He’s now being paid $80,000 per year to be one of three “Designated Principal Assistants” for the Missouri Department of Economic Development, assigned by the state’s economic development director to work with local cities and regional economic development organizations such as the Meramec Regional Planning Commission and the newly formed Pulaski County Growth Alliance. That’s a position appointed by the governor but which doesn’t require Missouri State Senate confirmation.
“Officially, his duties with us will consist of community development outreach. He will be traveling throughout the state and will be representing the department to Missouri’s communities by facilitating communication and providing technical assistance,” said Department of Economic Development spokesman John Fougere. “It’s not a newly created position … Every division in our department by state statute has three of those positions and one of them is open.”
Fougere said the position has been open for about a month and he wasn’t sure of the reasons why the previous person in the job left.
Ransdall said his experience in both state and local government will help him do his new job well.
“Given my past experience as a city councilman, mayor, presiding commissioner and state representative, I am confident I can be as asset to the Department in working with municipalities, local governments and planning commissions to help them meet their economic development goals,” Ransdall said in a prepared statement issued for him by the Department of Economic Development.
Ransdall was one of 84 people who weren’t confirmed by the Missouri State Senate in time to meet a Feb. 4 deadline for approval of recess appointments — appointments made under state law by the governor when the legislature isn’t in session. People appointed by the governor to positions that require state senate confirmation when that body is in recess are allowed to fill the positions for one month after the legislature reconvenes, which allows many state agencies to continue functioning without long vacancies. While most of those names will be resubmitted by the governor for confirmation and will be able to resume their duties after they’re confirmed, Ransdall apparently won’t be on that list.
Ransdall spent only a few months on the Missouri State Tax Commission, but one of his votes drew heavy fire even though the commission vote was unanimous in favor of a recommendation from agriculture officials at the University of Missouri to increase tax rates on the state’s highest-quality farmland while lowering rates on the lowest-quality farmland. The recommendation would have gone into effect in 2011, but was rejected by both houses of the state legislature and will now die.
Ransdall had filled one of three seats on the Missouri State Tax Commission, which pays $106,000 per year and by state statute must be a full-time position. As a condition of his appointment, Ransdall was required to give up numerous positions including his elected office as Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner, his chairmanship of the Pulaski County Growth Alliance and Missouri Ozarks Community Action, his membership on a state board that oversees local soil and water commissions, and his role as a compensated employee of Rastur Inc., a company which demolishes and re-sells items from Fort Leonard Wood housing being refurbished or replaced by newer homes.
Ransdall’s nomination and that of several other Democrats who previously served in the Missouri House of Representatives ran into a buzzsaw of opposition from Republicans who didn’t like the way they conducted themselves as members of the legislature. While Ransdall has said locally for years that he tries to maintain good relationships with Republicans as well as Democrats, some of his former Missouri House of Representatives colleagues who are now members of the Missouri State Senate publicly criticized him for partisanship.
Ransdall’s new role, as with his previous role on the Missouri State Tax Commission, will require him to spend significant amounts of time in Jefferson City but will also require him to travel throughout the state helping local governments and economic development personnel understand how to apply for and administer grants, as well as how to use other methods of economic development.
“He is in our division of business and community services which administers a variety of tax incentive programs and community programs such as the Community Development Block Grant program,” Fougere said. “There is quite a bit of process that has to be worked through before one of these grants is awarded to a community in Missouri.”
That’s where Ransdall’s dual role as a former state legislator and a former leader in city and county government will be useful, Fougere said.
“It is very advantageous to have people who have worked with local communities on these things,” Fougere said. “He has knowledge not only of these programs but how these things work on the local level.”
At the local level, for two decades Ransdall was a member of the Waynesville City Council and mayor of that city before being elected to the state legislature.