For the first time since 1992, Boone County Treasurer Kay Murray has an opponent in an election. Republican Fred Evermon has stepped forward to challenge Murray, who has held the office for 28 years.
The Boone County treasurer is responsible for making investment decisions, receiving and disbursing the county’s money, balancing the county checking account with the general ledger and handling all bond issues.
Murray, a Democrat, was elected to the office in 1976 after working for 10 years in the Boone County Clerk’s Office. She has been opposed in two elections — once in 1976 by Republican Neal Pryor and again in 1992 by Republican Bob Tice.
In any given year, the treasurer might handle $25 million to $100 million in investments for the county. These investments are producing an average rate of return of 1.5 percent.
“I have not seen a rate that low in my entire tenure,” Murray said, blaming the financial market’s poor performance in the past two years. Money earned on investments made by the treasurer’s office account for 1 percent of the $41.7 million county budget this year.
The treasurer is responsible for making sure the county’s money is put into 98 separate funds for county departments. Most of the money in those funds, such as the money collected from fines, is separate from the county’s annual budget.The treasurer also serves on the Self-Health Trust Fund Board, which is responsible for setting the benefits and costs of county employee health insurance. The cost of that insurance has been rising over the past several years, and the county has often been forced to redefine the benefits it offers, Murray said.
When Murray became treasurer 28 years ago, she was paid $12,500 a year. Her current salary is about $75,000.
Evermon said he believes Murray’s long stay in office is one of the things that will benefit him in the election. He thinks people are ready for a change of leadership and some new ideas.
Evermon said the focus of his campaign is the idea that it’s important to remember that the money that flows through the treasurer’s office is the public’s money.
He said he would keep the money in “good stewardship,” serve as a watchdog for the citizens and be a “positive motivator” to help the office get its job done.
Murray said she believes her nearly 40 years of service to the county will give her the edge in the election.
She said she’s been able to stay in the treasurer’s office for so many years because the job is not well-known to the public and also because it’s a difficult job, because the treasurer is responsible for handling the county’s money.
A large part of Murray’s campaign efforts are directed to new residents of the county, she said. She wants to let people know that the treasurer is an important elected office.
Murray said during her tenure she has worked to computerize the treasurer’s office and increase the county’s use of electronic banking, especially electronic funds transfers.
Her strategy, she said, is to put the county’s money into short-term investments, which usually last two to three years. The investments are safe and can be liquidated easily, she said.
The treasurer’s investments are made based on a county investment policy that specifies how the money should be invested. The office is also governed by a state statute.
Murray said she follows these policies with a “common sense approach and a good business approach.”
Evermon also has a long history of community service. He worked as a reserve police officer in Minnesota and in Columbia for 7 1/2 years.
“I’ve always volunteered, since I was 17,” Evermon said. “Even when it gets hard … it needs to be done.”
He said he has the work ethic to take on the job as treasurer. Evermon spent nine years working as a program analyst for the accountants at Coast to Coast Hardware in Minneapolis and Kansas City, Mo. During that time, he worked with the store’s accounts, corporate accounts, accounts receivable and sales taxes. “I do not stop until I’m done. That will carry into the treasurer’s office,” Evermon said, adding that he is an analytical thinker.
He said if there are problems in the computer systems in the treasurer’s office, he can track them down. He has an extensive background working with computers.
Evermon worked for the state of Missouri setting up computer labs at Lincoln University in Jefferson City. Later he worked with the Missouri Veterans Commission updating the computer systems in its nursing homes. He also taught computer classes at Columbia College for eight years until the school failed to renew his contract, he said.
Evermon also said he has experience with the computer systems in county offices. He spent 3 1/2 years working in Boone County’s Information Technology Office as a senior programmer and analyst, starting in 1999. In that position, he worked with computers in the billing department of the collector’s office, as well as computers in the payroll and auditor’s offices. He said he was eventually asked to leave the job, although county officials declined to explain why.
He is now working with Retail Service Pro-Assembly Co., a contractor that assembles products at Lowe’s.
For 15 years, Evermon has served as accountant and treasurer for Midway Heights Baptist Church. He has also been an assistant pastor there for 10 years.