Newton County releases ‘State of the County’ update

County budget update included
Newton County releases ‘State of the County’ update

The following statement is written by Marilyn Ruestman, the Presiding Commissioner of Newton County, Missouri.

State of the County 2010 – 2018

You elected me to serve as your watchdog over the expenditures of your hard earned tax dollars and I have remained vigilant to that priority. You now deserve a report on results of my 8 year term as Presiding Commissioner.

Because of an economic downturn, the reserve fund for the County ending 2010 was $863,505.81. I am extremely pleased to exit 2018 with a reserve fund of $3,693,700.72. This reserve serves as a type of county savings account in case of an economic emergency for any county and should contain operating expenses for 6 months up to one year. The total budget for 2018 is $25,668,974.10

The operating expenses for 2010 were $9,819,156.57.

In 2018 an operating budget of $10,536,723.20 was anticipated.

County growth toward First Class County status based on assessed evaluation of the county was $697,266,246.00 in 2010. It is now $ 877,944,445.00 in 2018.

— Cost of living salary increases have seen a total increase including this year’s offer of 12.5% during the previous 8 years as well as a reduction to a 37.5 hour work week for several positions.

— Newton County continues to offer 12 paid holiday days per year.

— Full time employees receive paid health insurance coverage with supplemental plans available. Newton County also provides a retirement plan, vacation accrual and other benefits. And beginning 2019 the full time hourly base rate following any probation period will be $12.00 per hour.

Many sophisticated software programs have been implemented including a Tyler Bookkeeping system and a Superion System, for law enforcement, 911 and emergency management, to provide state of the art communication throughout the County and State. This process has been slow, it’s been painful, but is necessary to remain relevant in Government today.

We have made an effort to keep our county investments consistent and proportional for both personnel as well as capital needs.

Based on increased security requirements in today’s society and because space became a critical issue, we made the financial and social decision to relocate our judicial system to a historical building of 1,700 square feet, located just across the street from the Courthouse and to continue to remain located on our Historical Square at an amazing per foot cost. We can now boast of a more secure and efficient delivery of our county judicial services to our staff and our citizens, as well as meeting our increasing criminal justice needs.

The County has added an expanded employee policy manual that meets the requirements of federal, state and insurance regulations. It is continually reviewed and updated to meet personnel standards.

Since 2011 the County has developed a flag and a county seal, and is making an effort to clearly mark all county vehicles in the county fleet.

Every County audit has been clean and transparent and our financial rating remains solid.

In 2011 the voters approved an earmarked ¼ cent sales tax dedicated to county roads and bridges. As of 2018 we had collected $12,198,444.39 thus enabling us to improve 480 miles of county roads. This tax money is accounted for separately and dispensed to each road district based on the miles in that district.

We are presently in the process of renovating the Courthouse and restoring our old historical courtroom for public tours and use during business hours by reservation.

Our Sheriff’s department, 911 and emergency management department continue to implement updates in their facilities and radio systems in order to meet the highest standards of the State. Expansion plans for additional bed space are presently underway at the jail facility.

We have continued to remain diligent with money expenditures but we recognize the need to remain progressive as the County moves toward First Class Status. I am personally proud of the progress we have accomplished.

Thank you for allowing me the privilege of being a part of this “decade of growth” for the County that my family has chosen to make our home since 1970.

Marilyn Ruestman – Presiding Commissioner, 2011- 2018