Treasurer Murray upbeat on Boone County finances

Economy, bond projects intrigue long-time incumbent.
Monday, October 13, 2008 | 6:32 p.m. CDT; updated 8:52 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 13, 2008
Kay Murray

Kay Murray

RESIDENCE: 1600 Apple Valley Court


PERSONAL: Age 64. Unmarried.


OCCUPATION: Boone County Treasurer

EDUCATION: Bachelor of arts in history and government from Columbia College, 1978; graduate-level managerial accounting and basic computer courses at MU, 1980; attended the Advanced Government Finance Institute at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.; received certificates of achievement from Government Finance Officers Association for Cash Management, Investing Public Funds and Intermediate Governmental Accounting.

BACKGROUND: In Boone County, oversees the art programs for county buildings. Statewide, chairs the County Employees Retirement Fund board. She chairs the Nationwide 401A Trust for county employees and the benefits committee for Boone County employees. She also chaired the Investment Advisory Committee for the State Treasurer's Office and served on its "unclaimed property" committee.

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COLUMBIA — Boone County Treasurer Kay Murray has other things on her mind besides winning her ninth term. Running unopposed in the Nov. 4 election, Murray has the luxury to set aside campaigning and concentrate on a more important matter: her job.

"The economy has really been making my job interesting," Murray said.

Murray said she's never seen anything like the current state of the economy. That's saying something.

"I've weathered a few things in years past," she said. "But I think this is totally the worst."

Murray, first elected to the office of county treasurer in 1976, is the longest-serving elected official in Boone County.

But Murray said she isn't worried about the county's finances. She's been doing a lot of research and speaking to her colleagues about how the nation's recent economic situation affects the county's investments.

"Everything is safe," Murray said. "I don't have any investments that are going to go under. With my institutional knowledge, I think I can weather this for the county."

That institutional knowledge and easy confidence are two traits that Boone County Treasurer's Office accountant Lisa Roland appreciates about Murray.

"I've learned a lot from her," Roland said. "If I have a question about anything, she's the first person I go to."

Roland said she also appreciates that Murray is very family-oriented and understands what it's like for employees who split their time between work and home.

"She lets you do your work schedule around the important things," Roland said. "She's the best boss I've ever had."

For Murray, her duties as treasurer always come first. In fact, she never thinks about the next election until the third year of a term. When considering her ninth term, she considered the practical reasons for another run.

"I was going to have to work somewhere, and age-wise and monetarily — benefits and all that good stuff — I felt it would be better for me to stay with the county," she said.

"I have excellent staff and so I figured I had nothing to lose if I filed," she said. "If I lost, it would be a decision made."

After 32 years in office, Murray said she finds it difficult to step away from her job.

"As much as I wish sometimes that I could stand back for a bit," Murray said, "we have several new projects that I'm interested in — things I've never worked with."

Murray said she is particularly excited about working on Chapter 100 bonds with ABC Labs. The bonds grant the company a tax incentive to encourage job creation, and the deal with ABC Labs marked the county's first use of Chapter 100 bonds.

"It's going to bring jobs into the county," Murray said, "and I think that's a very good thing. It's an interesting method of doing finances."

Boone County Presiding Commissioner Ken Pearson said Murray's inquisitive nature makes her particularly well-suited to her job.

"If she sees something that it is new or might be applicable to what they do in the treasurer's office, she is willing to try it and investigate further," he said. "She's just really interested in trying to improve what's done in that office. And that's good for taxpayers of this county."

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