Dear friend of Platte County!
It has been my pleasure to officially serve Platte Countians as commissioner for the first two months of 2017. While there have been a few unexpected events since taking the oath of office, it has been a pleasure working with Presiding Commissioner Ron Schieber and 2nd District Commissioner John Elliott, who are not afraid to make tough choices and move towards more fiscally responsible government.
Your new commission has been working on increasing transparency, including making documents more accessible to the public. Thanks to the County Clerk's office and IT, the commission's administrative session agendas now include fiscal impact statements and links to supporting documents. You can view the commission's agenda on the Friday before session at: http://www.co.platte.mo.us.
Coffee with the Commissioners
You may also notice on the County's website the commission's calendar, which will include almost every Friday morning a scheduled "Coffee with the Commissioners" at various breakfast establishments throughout the County. This is to make ourselves available to meet with constituents, hear concerns, answer questions, or just "chew the.... bacon" and get to know you better. We invite you to join us for these Dutch breakfasts. (No RSVPs necessary, but please double check the calendar before leaving to make sure there haven't been any last-minute changes.)
The 2017 Budget
The most important task of a county commissioner is the oversight and setting of the budget. This past year, Platte County's sales and use tax revenue for discretionary spending was down 2%. The County faces a significant increase in expenses in 2017 including over $500,000 in employees' fringe benefits costs - $350,000 in healthcare insurance increases alone. The commission made multiple budget cuts to the auditor's 2017 proposed budget before it was brought to our attention that the auditor's budget failed to account for payment of the County's $1.2 million emergency radio lease with the 5 cent property tax levy increase from a previous commission 2-1/2 years ago. While this last minute "budget bombshell" was not anticipated, we were able to work with officeholders and department heads to make additional budget cuts, including personnel reductions that were included in the final commission approved budget. We will continue to review areas throughout the year where consolidation and streamlined operations could yield additional savings.
Prioritizing Law Enforcement
Even in this difficult budget season, costly attrition in the Sheriff's Department was made a priority, partially addressed though a $250,000 wage and fringe benefits increase. Retaining these employees, whose compensation is not regionally competitive, is a priority and saves taxpayers money in turnover and training, increases department morale, and is expected to assist in recruitment for several long-standing vacancies. It is your commission's commitment to fully support public safety and those who put their lives on the line to protect our families. We should not be a County that sees a sheriff's deputy leave the department to become a better-paid janitor, as was the case last year.
Honored to serve,
Platte County, Missouri
Commissioner, 1st District