Saint Francois County Commission
Presiding Harold Gallaher
District 1Gay Wilkinson
District 2 Patrick Mullins
1 West Liberty Street
Farmington, Missouri 63640
or 1-573-431-6505 extension 6
Established by Missouri Statute, there are three commissioners in St. Francois County. All county business, including financial, road operations, budgeting, security and courthouse management, must go through the Commission. The Commission office is open Monday thru Friday 8 am to 4 pm. Public commission meetings are held every Tuesday morning at 10 am.
2015 in review and looking ahead to 2016
As we roll into 2016, I believe it is important to look back and see where we’ve come and note any progress and need for future changes.
During 2015 St. Francois County adopted a new payroll schedule that incorporated a LAG time in the paydays. This one week delay in issuing checks is normal in the business world but had never been done in our County. We have paid on the 15th and 30th of each month for years with the pay periods ending on the 15th and the end of the month.
Often, we would be issuing paychecks before the end of a pay period on work that was scheduled, but not yet finished. The problems in that system are that it gave our accounting offices precious little time in preparing the paychecks and assumed that the work week would continue as planned. Each of those scenarios can lead to the onset of problems.
Starting on January 1, 2016, our pay-days will change to a payday EVERY OTHER FRIDAY with the first being issued on January 15th. Much planning, communication and other effort have gone into the change and our people seem to be accepting it well.
Above, it was mentioned that we changed the SCHEDULE of the payroll. We have also changed the SYSTEM of payroll. Our new system will incorporate a Defined Pay Step System in which the skills, talents, training, and responsibilities an employee has will affect the pay scale of that person.
In the past only the number of years worked had an effect on pay. Therefore, a person could work a number of years, still be low in their level of skills, and earn more than higher skilled workers. We also could not hire a person with advanced skills and/or training at anything but the beginning pay scale. This made it difficult to get applications from highly qualified persons for some of the positions that require these special skills.
On January 1, 2016 this will change. We will have a program in which the person is fitted to the pay schedule at the time of hire. We anticipate more applications in the future for job openings as they occur.
Our accounting software has been very much outdated for years. It was difficult to get reports and information. The data is available but not well tied to the computer information. We have spent the past many months in installing, training, and setup of the new software that will give us reports on information needed to better make the many business decisions made every day in your County government.
Part of making sure our financial house is in order was to take a hard look at our debts. There are two mortgages (actually called Certificates of Participation or COPs) that the County owes for the Annex building and some other improvements made in the past. We prepay one of them in its entirety early this year and will put the other on fast track for early payoff.
We have started a line item in our new budget to cover liabilities such as accrued COMP TIME. We don’t pay overtime. Instead we award COMPensatory hours at 1 ½ times the number of overtime hours actually worked. The employee can take the time off, save the hours for future use or get eventual payment.
We often find ourselves writing large checks to cover the time an employee has built up over the years either at time of retirement or when his/her total hours reach their limits. We will now have money set aside for these expenses so that there will be no “surprises” in the years ahead. This is simply good planning for the future and helps assure our employees the benefits they have been promised.
For a few years the Commission felt the need to set aside money for a RESERVE fund that could only be used in the event of a serious local disaster. Over the years the name of that fund was necessarily changed to the GENERAL STABILIZATION FUND due to some legal issues, but the fund is still alive, well and growing. Again this year, we added to the fund to build it for the sake of safety and well being of our citizens in the event of serious problems beyond our control.
The EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK with which we operate the County is dated 1992. Obviously laws have been changed and methods improved and updated in the years since. Our policies should grow with the needs. During 2015, we wrote and adopted a new set of guidelines regarding PURCHASING and PROCUREMENT of materials. We will continue with the march of new and updated policies during 2016 with an eye to honest and efficient management of your local government.
Another new line item started in the budget for 2016 was for Capital Improvements. Our Road & Bridge barn is now located between daycare centers in a residential neighborhood. What was once a rural area has grown around us and limits growth and raises concern for safety. Over the next short time, we hope to relocate the barn away from this “crowded” area and to a more commercial region. We will then sell the present property and put it in the tax base while improving the efficiency of our work crews. This will be a win-win situation for all concerned. Money has been set aside for these improvements and safety enhancements in the 2016 budget.
Our older bookkeeping system had many funds. Each of these funds held cash for the projects outlined. We are taking a hard look at consolidating the STORAGE of the funds so that they may be invested to improve our return on investment. Of course, laws and common sense require that the taxpayers’ money be managed SAFELY in only insured accounts.
Our Treasurer, Kerry Glore, is taking the lead in finding the best manner in managing and investing these funds. We appreciate her work in the matter.
Along with the above updates, preliminary planning and study are progressing on even more ways to modernize and improve the management of St. Francois County. The work accomplished above and the work to follow is not from a single person, but from all the elected officers working together to get the job(s) done and to keep the costs down in their various offices. I appreciate their willingness to sit together and study the problems and have discussions on the best manner to handle them. They are to be commended and applauded.
Updates provided by Harold Gallaher
January 4 , 2016