FORSYTH — After a daylong tour of several of Boone County’s departments, offices and procedures, Presiding Commissioner Ron Houseman said he was “blown away” by, among other things, the cooperation and collaboration of officials.
“To see the advancements that that county has made, as a whole, toward more effective and efficient provision of county services is just incredible,” he said. “I don’t know how better to state that.”
Houseman and Western District Commissioner Jim Strafuss spent last Tuesday at the Boone County Government Complex in Columbia. Eastern District Commissioner Danny Strahan was sick that day and did not accompany them.
Karen Miller, Boone County’s District I commissioner, said in an earlier interview she had invited the Taney County Commission for a tour numerous times. The visit has been being planned for months.
Houseman said one of the most interesting and surprising parts of the visit was how Boone County’s sewer district operates.
He said it is funded solely through a connection fee, which is only slightly higher than the fees here. However, in Taney County, the sewer district is supplemented by a half-cent sales tax.
Additionally, Boone County has 6,400 sewer customers — more than three times the amount in Taney — but employs 12 people in its sewer department, only one more than the Taney County Sewer District.
Of those 12, Strafuss said five of them work exclusively on facilities and equipment that Taney County does not have.
“So it appeared more and more that they’re operating their sewer utility on about six people,” Strafuss said.
Strafuss added that he has already spoken with one member of the sewer board and has asked them to contact the Boone County Sewer Board to see if they can learn ways the district could be run more efficiently.
Strafuss was also enthusiastic of the Boone County Commission’s practice of assigning commissioners to act as liaisons to different departments and boards within the county.
“Because of that process, it sped up government,” Strafuss said. “You hear complaints about government all the time, that it moves very, very slowly.”
Strafuss said that administrative decisions in Taney County can sometimes take weeks. For example, he said one commissioner could be appointed to get updates from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel or to make decisions such as the exact placement of the nation’s motto, which was installed in the courthouse last week.
“It wouldn’t be giving up our authority as the county commission,” Strafuss said afterward. “But I think it would help speed up the administrative process and improve communication. It bothers me that we have to slow down decisions sometimes because of process.”
Strafuss said he expects several of the ideas to be implemented in Taney County, and would not be in favor of visiting other sites until then.
Commissioners discussed the visit in meetings Monday morning and afternoon. Houseman concluded the morning session by pointing out that Boone County’s success “didn’t happen overnight.”