Barry County Presiding Commissioner questionnaire: Gary Youngblood
1. Do you believe the county road districts need to be consolidated? If not, why not? If so, how would you facilitate the change?
I believe anything that will benefit the taxpayer and improve the roads in Barry County is a great idea. For smaller districts that are struggling with a limited assessed valuation which means fewer tax dollars to purchase equipment and maintain roads, this may be a good plan to consider. It is important to understand that the County Commission does not have the authority to combine two or more road districts. This action can only take place if the Road Commissioners from two or more districts officially make this request through petition and agree to mandated provisions. The Missouri Revised Statutes 233.295.9 lays out the specific steps that need to be followed for this type of action to take place with additional details included in Missouri Revised Statutes 233.170 to 233.315. There are currently twenty-five special road districts in Barry County. Itís natural to conclude that larger road districts would be hesitant to go through this process and end up spending their limited funds on maintaining roads outside their jurisdiction. It may be more practical to work towards improving cooperation between the districts to share personnel and equipment resources. These types of alliances may allow the road districts in Barry County to see real savings that can be channeled back into crucial road maintenance projects. My observation as County Clerk receiving candidate filings is that each year it becomes more challenging to find enough candidates willing to run for the required three elected unpaid positions in some of those road districts.
2. Do you see the county jail as adequate for the long term? If so, why? If not, what do you plan to do about it?
Let me begin by stating that it is unfortunate we live and work in a place that crime has risen to such a point that the original jail is no longer capable of meeting the needs of the County. The original portion of the jail was constructed in the early 1970ís and it certainly needs to be renovated to meet the present need. The current County Commission recently conducted a walk-though of the facility with an architect and the Sheriff to develop potential ideas for improvement. The original section was built for a capacity of approximately fourteen inmates with a kitchen designed to serve that same number. That kitchen now provides meals for an inmate capacity of approximately eighty individuals--so it is easy to understand why some remodeling needs to take place. Additionally, the population of female inmates has increased significantly over the last several years and meeting the privacy needs of this population is another reason to consider improvements. For each of the reasons noted above, I would be in favor of working towards making needed changes to the current jail structure. It is important to never lose sight of that fact that the Commission has three commissioners and at least two have to agree before any action can be taken! The Presiding Commissioner has just one vote like each of the associate commissioners and it is not up to one person to make a decision. The Barry County Commission is not a one-person board and, if elected, I would work towards listening to the ideas and concerns expressed by each of the other commissioners. If it were agreed on by at least two of the three commissioners to proceed, then we would begin the process by hiring an architect using the approved method and then developing ideas on what needs to be accomplished. This would be followed by a cost estimate of the proposed improvements and then the allocation of funds from the budget earmarked for this purpose. In the budgets I have prepared as County Clerk, and the Commission has adopted, funds have been set aside for issues such as this so that we can improve services to our residents when needed without the added tax burden.