Franklin County Second District Commissioner Dave Hinson says the transition from the state Legislature to the county commission has been smooth and productive after his first year in office.
Hinson is finishing his first year as county commissioner after serving six years in the Missouri House of Representatives.
“It’s been somewhat how I expected it would be,” Hinson said. “Being one of three instead of one of 163, you can get a lot more done.”
Hinson said one of his main objectives early on was to get a handle on how all of the county departments worked and how the commission interacts with the other county-elected officials.
Although Hinson agrees he may not see eye-to-eye with his colleagues on every issue, it spurs conversation and compromise between the commissioners.
“Yes, we have some split votes,” Hinson said. “But, it’s good having a back and forth and a different opinion. Overall, we are getting things done.”
Hinson said one of the accomplishments he is most proud of is the creation and evolvement of the purchasing department.
“I was a bit skeptical at first,” Hinson admitted. “It’s already saved the county $80,000 and they didn’t get up and running until March. They’re looking outside the box and the savings can only get better.”
Another high point of integration and streamlining county procedures is the privatizing of the information technology department and combining mapping and other duties into the Recorder of Deeds office.
Hinson also mentioned the recent passage of a road plan that will allow residents to request existing gravel roads be paved.
Hinson said he is also very happy the commission was able to give most employees raises based on a salary study released last summer.
“We had hoped to have a two-year phase-in, but it will probably take three years to get everyone on the steps they should be,” Hinson said. “Having the job descriptions and guidelines will help us clear up salary inequities in various departments.”
Beginning next year, Hinson hopes to talk more with county employees in all departments to get their thoughts on streamlining processes and finding even more savings for the county.
“Our employees have good ideas, we need to listen to those things,” Hinson said.
At the beginning of 2017, all three county commissioners said the county jail and 911 facilities would be a top priority.
Now, with plans announced for a tax referendum on the April ballot to fund renovations and supplement law enforcement salaries, they have progressed the issue and it will be in the hands of the voters.
“Ninety-five percent of people call 911 when something happens and expect people to show up and take care of it,” Hinson said. “They don’t understand the built-in infrastructure behind it.”
Hinson added if the referendum doesn’t pass, the county will have to cobble something together, but the outcome will not be ideal.
“The sheriff’s department and 911 are doing a great job working with what they have,” Hinson said. “They both need more space and that’s not going to go away. If the tax doesn’t pass, how do you solve the situation? We can’t just stick our heads in the sand.”
Although Hinson says he will stay neutral through the election year, he understands there will be a new county commissioner in 2019 either in the presiding or first district seat.
He hopes, whoever the new person is, they can continue to work together for the betterment of the county as a whole and not for personal vendettas.
“People in Franklin County are good at seeing through candidates,” Hinson said. “We may not agree on every issue, but you can’t take a disagreement personally. I know sometimes that’s hard in politics.”