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Commissioner asks why Pulaski County can't be a first-class county
Commissioner asks why Pulaski County can't be a first-class county

County Commissioner Bill Farnham reads the County Record and its report on Phelps County.
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (April 26, 2010) — As Missouri’s largest third-class county in terms of population, Pulaski County is an anomaly. The county has a high population due to Fort Leonard Wood, but is limited in its governmental powers because county classifications are based on assessed property values and nearly all property on Fort Leonard Wood is tax-exempt.

However, while reading the current issue of the County Record, the magazine of the Missouri Association of Counties, Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham was surprised to find that the county’s neighbor to the east, Phelps County, may soon be able to upgrade its status from a third-class county to a second-class county.

That’s despite having a smaller population than Pulaski County, Farnham noted, and despite having substantial amounts of government-owned land in Rolla for the University of Missouri and other agencies.

“I’ve said from day one that if we got to count Fort Leonard Wood, we’d be a first-class county long ago. If they don’t get to count their state and federal buildings, where is their money coming from?” Farnham asked. “Maybe we need to put our foot down.”

For now, however, Pulaski County faces serious budget shortfalls.

Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch said the county may have more bills than it expected from several sources, including the Pulaski County Growth Alliance, an economic development organization which was previously chaired by the county’s former presiding commissioner, Bill Ransdall.

“We need to look into this because Bill Ransdall promised them something,” McCulloch said. “The mayors all said they were going to pay 50 cents a head and they brought that up to me. I don’t know anything about it, do you?”

Farnham said the county only voted to pay a set amount per year.

“I know I wouldn’t vote for more, I can guarantee that,” said Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink.

The Pulaski County Growth Alliance likely won’t be getting any extra money.

“Quite honestly we don’t have any more money,” McCulloch said.

In other financial matters, Farnham said he has the opportunity to trade an old burned truck bought back for $400 from the county’s insurance company in return for signs produced by the company which handles the county’s road sign production.

“Can we do that?” Zweerink asked.

“That’s why I’m bringing it up,” Farnham replied.

“If it’s legal, I’m not opposed to it,” McCulloch said.

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