By Heath Clarkston
COLE COUNTY APPROVES MAILBOX DESIGN AND REPLACEMENT POLICY
On Tuesday, January 18th the Cole County Commission approved a formal policy on design standards for mailboxes and how to address damages to mailboxes. In regard to construction of mailboxes on county right-of-way, property owners will need to follow the guidelines established by the U.S. Postal Service. For those constructing a mailbox, rather than purchasing a pre-made mailbox, the plans should be approved by the postmaster.
If a mailbox is damaged by road crews, the county public works department will attempt to repair or replace the box with a temporary mailbox within 48 hours. The county replacement will follow the Federal Highway Administration recommended 4×4 wooden post with a metal mailbox attached. If a property owner wishes to have a different replacement mailbox, they will need to replace on their own and request county reimbursement for the cost of such replacement not to exceed that of the standard 4×4 wooden post with a metal mailbox.
The county will not be required to replace any mailboxes that are installed incorrectly by U.S. Postal Service standards for height and distance from the edge of the road, previously damaged or poorly maintained. Damage to mailboxes must be reported to the County Public Works office within five days of the damage.
LEGISLATION PENDING TO ADOPT INTERNATIONAL POOL AND SPA CODE
A bill is pending in the Missouri House of Representatives filed by Rep. Ron Hicks (R-Dardenne Prairie) adopts the “International Swimming Pool and Spa Code” as it existed on May 1, 2021 and promulgated by the International Code Council, as the county and municipal swimming pool and spa code for the state. The Code applies to all construction, alteration, remodeling, enlargement, and repair of swimming pools and spas in any county or municipality that elects to regulate pools and spas. Counties and municipalities are authorized to establish procedures
for the administration and enforcement of the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code, and are authorized to adopt local amendments to the Code or amendments made by the International Code Council. This bill has been referred to committee but has yet to receive a public hearing.
BUDGET PROCESS BEGINS IN JEFFERSON CITY
Between the Governor’s FY 23 budget proposal and federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the state General Assembly has a $47.3 billion budget in front of it as it begins its review. This is 16.7 percent in general revenue and 63 percent in use of federal funds. Missouri received record general revenue last year and expects almost the same this year. The ARPA funding is set out in House Bill 20 and the rest of the FY 23 budget is set out in House Bills 1-13. The budget includes $24 billion in federal funds and $3 billion of that is ARPA dollars. The ARPA funding includes:
- $400 million in broadband
- $411M in water project grants and lead service line identification
- $126M for modernizing online government services
- $69.3M for completion of the Rock Island Trail
- $104.7M to build a new public safety crime lab
- Dollars for community health centers
- Combined state lab for DHSS, Ag, DNR and Conservation
- $469M on capitol improvements at Missouri public colleges and universities
- $175M for roads and bridges and low volume/minor road repair
- $10M for agricultural tax credits
- Doubling the space in Autism Centers, and
- $11M for peace officer training.
Under the FY 23 (normal budget dollars), highlights include:
- $955M to health care providers for rate increases, including home-based care and nursing homes
- $722M for childcare providers to stay in business and help parents pay
- $500M in pension solvency
- $281M cash reserve fund to help the state in lean years
- $100M to pay state debt early and save in future years
- An income tax rate cut
- A 5.5 percent pay increase for all state employees
- Education funding- Increased to $10.5 billion ($3 billion increase over the current fiscal year) which includes fully funding the Foundation Formula and a core increase of $52M for Higher Education.
The House will now begin its budget process by holding hearings and taking testimony. Once complete, it will pass the budget on to the Senate for completion. The budget must be passed by the General Assembly and sent to the Governor for his review by May 6. In addition, the General Assembly is currently working on the supplemental budget bill, House Bill 14, that provides funding to help departments meet their demands by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2022, and also addresses ARPA dollars that must be authorized to be spent.
SENATE APPROVES DRU BUNTIN AS DIRECTOR OF DNR
Among 17 recent appointments by Governor Mike Parson (R), receiving unanimous Senate approval on Jan. 20 is Dru Buntin of Columbia, appointed as director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on Aug. 11, 2021.
Buntin served as the deputy director of DNR for more than four years. He first joined DNR in 2000 as the director of government affairs and advanced to deputy director for policy and chief of water resources. In 2013, Buntin became the executive director of the Upper Missouri River Basin Association before rejoining DNR in 2017. He has more than 15 years’ experience with DNR and more than 20 years’ experience in Missouri state government. He attended the University of Missouri, Columbia, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science.
Since 2017, Buntin has been instrumental in leading the department’s Red Tape Reduction initiative as well as drought response and flood recovery support efforts. He also worked closely with the late director Carol Comer to strengthen partnerships with Missouri businesses, citizens, and communities to assist with and promote compliance with Missouri’s environmental laws and regulations. Buntin was introduced at a Jan. 19 hearing by Sen. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia).
MODIFYING STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee convened January 18 to consider passage of Senate Bill 631 (Hegeman, R-Cosby). The bill amends the law by requiring an injured party to act within two years of an injury instead of 5 years for personal and bodily injury. Senate Bill 631 has been placed on the Senate Floor Calendar and is expected to be debated by the Missouri Senate in early February. The reduction in the statute of limitation on personal injury cases such as “slip and fall” has strong support throughout the business community from small to large employers.