County tax is needed
I encourage the voters of Barry County to support the proposed Barry County one-eighth cent sales tax increase that is sorely needed for the various services provided by the county to its citizens. Part of the increase will necessarily be used for the needs of law enforcement, which I will address.
During the last six months of 2012, after the retirement of Circuit Judge Robert Wiley, I had the privilege of performing various duties of that position, which required me to preside over various court proceedings in Barry, Lawrence and Stone counties. These counties make up the 39th Judicial Circuit. During this six-month period, I noted that Barry County has a full-time prosecuting attorney and one half-time assistant. Lawrence County has a full-time prosecuting attorney, one full-time assistant and one half-time assistant. Stone County has a full-time prosecuting attorney and three full-time assistants. Also, due to financial constraints, on most days, Barry County was only able to provide one bailiff for three courtrooms whereas Lawrence and Stone counties were able to provide one bailiff for each courtroom.
In fiscal year 2012, the total criminal case filings for the entire Judicial Circuit were 8,161. Barry County's filings were 2,988, 37 percent of total filings. Lawrence County's filings were 2,790, 34 percent of total filings, and Stone County's filings were 2,383, 29 percent of total filings.
Over the past several years, due to financial constraints, the Barry County Sheriff has had to significantly reduce the number of sheriff's deputies.
Due to several capital murder cases in the last couple of years, our prosecuting attorney and his staff has been stretched to their limit.
Thankfully, we have conscientious civil servants in all of our law enforcement positions, but I can assert, from personal observation, they all are overworked and are in need of additional manpower to address the needs of our county.
Barry County, unlike the federal government cannot print money or borrow money from China. Further, unlike the federal government, the county is required to formulate a budget and actually operate the county within the financial constraints of that budget.
From personal experience and observation, as a citizen and taxpayer, I receive the most for my tax money at the local level. If we as citizens of Barry County ask our county to continue to provide necessary services and to protect our property and us, we must provide the financial wherewithal to do so.
I encourage you to vote in favor of the proposed one-eighth cent sales tax on April 2.
Carr L. Woods
39th Judicial Court senior judge