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Commissioner Mark Collins Howell County report

Hello Howell County!

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It has been a great spring, but the custodians have been busy keeping the courthouse lawn under control. It looks great! Summer, by the calendar will soon be here with its normal hot, dry days.
The Howell County road crews are busy preparing the asphalt surface roads for their summer maintenance, with some getting a hot mix overlay. This will be approximately 6 miles in the northern district and 5 miles in the southern district, and while doing this they continue to haul limestone rock on the 1000 miles of gravel roads.
This year Howell County has entered into a partnership agreement with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). They purchased the chat and we hauled and placed it on designated areas of roadway leading into MDC Parks. This amounted to about $20,000 of rock that was paid for by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
The Howell County Commission wants to thank Howell County citizens for voting to extend the ½ cent capital improvement tax for the Howell County Road & Bridge Department until 2029. This will let us keep improving the 1,060 miles of roads, dozens of bridges, and hundreds of low water crossings in Howell County. Give yourself a pat on the back for looking down the road to ensure the upkeep and improvement of our county roads.
Speaking of pat on the back, the legislators are patting themselves on their backs and telling everyone about their accomplishments this last legislative session, and yes, they did correct some issues, but they are not talking about the unfunded mandate they passed down to all the counties and citizens of Missouri to give all sheriffs a substantial raise over the next 5 years.
This amendment was attached to Senate Bill 53, which had some great legislation in it, but this sheriff’s amendment was a very poor addition. It takes local control away from the local county salary commission that they, the legislators, set up years ago to address salary issues. They tied the sheriff’s salary to federal judges' salary along with their raises. Class 3 counties, of which there are 89 of Missouri’s 114, are small and have little money to work with. So, instead of more law enforcement there might be less! The counties will still have the same amount of money to allocate to their law enforcement but maybe less for deputies, jails, vehicles, and the rest of law enforcement.
The county commissioners are all for local law enforcement, but the Missouri Legislature does not know every county’s monetary situation, and if they can afford this mandated salary increase or not, need to let the local county salary commissions do their intended duties. They need to stay out of county issues, or at least talk with counties about budget situations before blindly passing unfunded mandates down to counties. They don’t like it when the federal government does it to them!
The state currently owes Missouri counties millions of dollars in back prisoner per-diems of which they pay $22.58 per day, about half of the actual cost to the counties to house their prisoners when we enforce their laws! They need to pay their bills before mandating more costs to counties and their citizens. The County Commissioners Association of Missouri (CCAM) is visiting with Governor Parson’s office to make him aware of the situation with the sheriff’s amendment before he signs it into law.
Since the ease up of the pandemic we are gradually and cautiously attending more and more meetings dealing with county issues. It’s good to see and discuss county issues with other county officials.

Howell County Collector Dennis Von Allmen has informed me that his office has sent out the first notice of three–years delinquent property taxes. If not paid, they will be sold at the county tax sale in August.
Howell County Clerk Kelly Waggoner and I have applied for the American Rescue Plan Act 2021 Funding. Howell County is reported to receive approximately 7.8 million dollars from this act. As of now we do not know all the guidelines for spending it. We are still being harassed by an accounting firm hired by the state to basically do a procedural audit on counties on the 2020 Cares Act Funding. The commission recently applied for and was awarded an HMGP (Hazard Mitigation Grant Program) Grant for much needed emergency generators for the Howell County Courthouse, office building, and jail on a 75/25 match meaning the county will pay 25% of total cost. This grant was brought to our attention by Trent Courtney, who is a grant writer for South Central Ozark Council of Governments (SCOCOG), our regional planning office.
The Howell County offices will be closed Monday in observance of Memorial Day and will return at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The 2020 Howell County plat books are still available at the low price of $35, and maps are available for $40 at the Howell County Clerk’s Office. Books are also available at the Howell County Recorder’s Office in the Courthouse.
Let’s continue to make Howell County a great place to live, work and raise a family!
The full commission is in session every Monday and Thursday. Come by and see us.
Have a safe holiday!

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