TOWNSHIP FORM OF GOVERNMENT
Recently, our County Commission held our annual dinner with Township Board members at which we let each Township know how much money we can disburse to them to help rock their roads for the year. For those of you who don't know we currently have 13 townships: Blue Mound, Chillicothe, Cream Ridge, Fairview, Grand River, Green, Jackson, Medicine, Monroe, Mooresville, Rich Hill, Sampsel and Wheeling. Livingston County - along with 20 other counties third and fourth class counties (non metropolitan counties) in the State of Missouri - has this Township form of county government. The other 80 or so third and fourth class counties have a County form of government, which does not have townships and is therefore more centralized.
In the Township form of government, the County Commission is responsible to approve and accept roads into our County system, and the township is responsible for maintaining the roads within the township. (It should be noted that the County maintains the bridges in the County.) Each township has a trustee and two other board members. The board of each township hires its own personnel and buys its own equipment and additional rock to maintain the roads. Each township also has its own set of property taxes (2 or 3 different ones) for this purpose. The money from their property taxes comes into the county which we then disburse out to the townships. In total, the money raised from these property taxes is approximately one million dollars.
Many townships that are small only receive approximately $30,000 plus of tax because of their size and modest assessed valuation. Chillicothe Township receives the largest amount of property taxes due to its higher assessed valuation from the city of Chillicothe and its surrounding area.
In addition to the property taxes each township receives, our county receives from the State of Missouri what is known as CART (County Aid Road Trust) rock money. This comes from a gas tax collected at the pump. The total dollar amount we disbursed this year was $315,000 and was disbursed out to each township based on each township's road mileage. There are 624 miles of roads in the county. To help insure that the money disbursed is used appropriately, our County Commissioners, primarily East Commissioner Ken Lauhoff and West Commissioner Todd Rodenburg, inspects each road after it is prepared by each township's road crew prior to rock being put on the road.
Other than Chillicothe Township which has three full time employees, most all of the townships, because of their limited resources, have hired one or two part time motor grader operators to grade roads, clear ditches, level roads and spread out the rock (plus moving snow in winter).
I am very impressed with the level of dedication and commitment by the township boards. They work very hard for their constituents in their respective townships for very little compensation. As I mentioned to them at the meeting, I respect what they do, and I am looking forward to working with all of them and getting to know them better.
Finally, it should be noted that as a Commission we are following developments around the state regarding the township form of government. In April, Sullivan County (Milan is their largest town) voted out their township form of government in favor of a county form. As Commissioners, we are collecting information on this issue and plan to follow very closely.