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County budget hearing to be Thursday
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Jan. 27, 2009) — Pulaski County Commissioners will hold their annual budget hearing Thursday morning to approve their 2009 budget. While the meetings are usually a formality, budgets have been difficult this year and Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall invited anyone who wants to comment to attend the meeting.

“If anybody would like to come in and discuss the budget, we will be here and available,” Ransdall said.

The meeting will be at 9 a.m. in the county courthouse. The county commission won’t meet at its regular Monday and Thursday times next week, but will meet on Wednesday.

The public legal notice for the budget indicates that anticipated revenues for 2009 will be $5,042,584 with expenses divided into five major budget categories: $1,154,845 for general county government, $1,822,272 for public safety, $1,794,549 for the highway and road department, $123,708 in operating transfers and $94,666 for an emergency fund.

Rather than conducting interviews for a vacant courthouse custodian position, commissioners decided Monday to hire a temporary custodian for full-time duty who has been working since the previous custodian quit. Ransdall called Circuit Clerk Rachelle Beasley and learned that there have been no complaints by the judges or other court personnel about the work of the current temporary custodian.

Ransdall had been surprised to receive 19 applications for a job advertised as paying $8.50 per hour, some from residents as far away as Raymondsville, Plato and Bucyrus in Texas County.

“There are a lot of people looking for a job,” Ransdall said. “I just hate to call in a lot of people for interviews if we have someone who is doing a good job.”

According to County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer, the county has two full-time custodial positions that are paid from the courthouse sales tax fund, a special maintenance fund that isn’t controlled by the county commission but rather by the Pulaski County Public Facilities Board. The county also has a third part-time custodian who is paid by the Experience Works job program for older adults and works limited part-time hours depending on funding. His duties are typically 16 to 20 hours per week and the county does not contribute to his wages.

County commissioners also discussed numerous other budget issues at their Monday morning meeting.

Ransdall asked Linnenbringer for details about the sheriff’s deputy car driven by Jimmy Bench that crashed Jan. 21 near the Pointe Steakhouse on Highway 28, and learned it was still covered by insurance because the county’s decision to cancel full coverage for its older patrol cars won’t take effect until April. Bench had been making a lights-and-sirens emergency run to a disturbance call north of Crocker when he flipped his 2003 Ford Crown Victoria onto its top on a sharp curve. Bench suffered only minor injuries in the crash.

“So the police car that was totaled was insured, despite all the thumping we took on the internet?” Ransdall asked.

Linnenbringer confirmed that’s correct.

County commissioners in Missouri routinely receive copies of proposed state legislation that could affect their counties, and Ransdall drew attention to several bills being sponsored by Rep. David Day.

“On this hotel-motel tax that David Day has filed authorizing the city of Waynesville to impose a hotel-motel tax for a transient guest and convention center, would it have any effect on the county?” Ransdall asked.

Probably not, said Commissioner Bill Farnham, who said a recent letter by Dixon resident John Conner printed in the Waynesville Daily Guide about a hotel-motel tax may have led to misunderstandings.

“He was talking about a hotel-motel tax being used to pay for law enforcement. That would have to be passed at the state level,” Farnham said.

Ransdall also noted that Day has a different bill that lowers the number of state prisoners a circuit must have to qualify for an additional circuit court marshal. The proposed reduction would allow the 25th Judicial Circuit, which includes Pulaski County but also Texas County where a state prison is located at Licking, to get an additional state-paid position for the circuit court.

“When we went to the court en banc, (Presiding Judge Mary) Sheffield said Rep. Day would introduce this bill, but this doesn’t help us financially. This hires a marshal to be over all the bailiffs as a coordinator,” Ransdall said.

While Ransdall had originally proposed the idea as a way to get additional help for Pulaski County courts that would reduce the need for sheriff’s deputies to serve as court bailiffs, he said there may not be much point in trying to revise Day’s bill to provide more help to Pulaski County.

“I doubt if you’ll get much passed up there that will have a fiscal note, anyway,” Ransdall said.

During Monday’s commission meeting, the county received word that the Waynesville-St. Robert Chamber of Commerce forum on economic development scheduled for that evening would be postponed until next month due to bad weather. Ransdall said he was disappointed.

“I’d taken the budget home and studied it all weekend,” Ransdall said.

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