The fiscal cliff and updates from state elected officials, plus an update from Audrain County elected officials were topics at the annual Farm Bureau Legislative Dinner Saturday night at the Knights of Columbus Hall.
Darren Reynolds, president of the Audrain County Farm Bureau welcomed those attending. Jerry Johnson, Jerry Johnson Farm Pac (Political Action Committee) Trustee for District 6 introduced speakers for the evening. He also presented an update on the district changes which concern Audrain County.
Up first to the podium was State Rep. Jay Houghton, who told those attending that the main topics in Jefferson City this session will be the state health care exchange and the ag bill.
Audrain County Presiding Commissioner Steve Hobbs and Western District Commissioner Tom Groves gave an update on the county including repairs to the courthouse. One major concern is the possibility of losing the University Extension specialists in the next year. "This will be a great loss," said Groves.
On the bright side of things, the courthouse has been remodeled including the addition of a new elevator. "We are proud of it (the elevator). It is a lot more efficient and safer that the old one," said Groves. One major expense was adding a new rubber roof to the building, as well as adding a new roof to the jail. The utility and heating bills at the courthouse have been cut in half of what it was last year, which is credited mostly to the new roof.
Hobbs said he was proud of this county's fiscal constraints to build a balanced budget. "Each person in the courthouse last year brought in more money than they spent," said Hobbs.
One concern is the amount of people going through the court system and the crowdedness in the building during court. There is an average of 50,000 people in the courthouse a year in the court system alone, Hobbs stated. "There is a concern for people's safety at the courthouse," he added. This is something that needs attention, he said.
After Groves and Hobbs spoke, the remaining elected officials were asked if they had any comments. Janis Deimeke, recorder of deeds, reported her office now has records online and has implemented a property fraud alert system which is free to the public. "It has been well received," stated Deimeke. One hundred people have already signed up for it.
Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger reported on a disturbing trend with domestic violence cases increasing each year. He also voiced concerns on the safety of people outside the courtroom during court sessions.
Also speaking were Patty Meyers, treasurer; Missy Maupin, assessor, and the collector-elect Kate Becker, who will take office in March after she is sworn in at the time.
Field representatives for the following also addressed the crowd: Sens. Claire McCaskill, Roy Blunt, Rep. Vicki Hartzler and Congressman Sam Graves.