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In race, county judge touts planning for roads, building

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BENTONVILLE -- Benton County's County Judge Barry Moehring, a Republican, faces Libertarian Party candidate Ronnie L. Smith in the Nov. 6 general election.

Moehring is seeking a second term in office, having been elected in 2016. If successful, he will serve a four-year term because state law has extended the term from two to four years. The county judge in Benton County is paid $100,555 per year.

Smith, who has run unsuccessfully for county judge three times, did not respond to messages seeking comment left on his cellphone, at his home and with the Libertarian Party.

Moehring said he wants another term to continue the work he has started.

"The issues I ran on are issues today," he said, "better planning, financial stewardship and higher professional standards. There's always going to be things we need to do. There's no end to them."

Moehring said one example of better planning is the adoption of a new model for the Road Department to set the annual work program and to prioritize projects. The county hired a firm to drive all of its paved roads and do a video assessment of their condition. An evaluation was then done on the needed work, and the work program was developed based on that information.

"In the past, decisions to work on our roads and bridges were very subjective, based on who had driven the roads and what they had observed," Moehring said. "Now, we're data-driven and more objective."

Moehring said plans for a new courts facility also show better planning and concern for taxpayers' money. The county plans a $30 million building on Second Street in downtown Bentonville. The Quorum Court has formulated a plan based on a temporary one-eighth-cent sales tax as the main funding. That funding proposal is expected to be put to the voters in March 2019.

"Our courts facilities are currently inadequate and need to be improved," Moehring said. "We have an outstanding plan for expanding that, and we hope to start next year by breaking ground on a new facility."

Moehring said he strives to improve the efficiency of government and reduce the cost. He has cut six positions from departments under his supervision in the 2018 budget through reorganization and shifting duties. For 2019, he said, similar efforts will reduce the staff by another four positions.

"We've worked hard toward budgets where we can maintain services more efficiently and effectively," he said.

Early voting starts Oct. 22.

Metro on 10/12/2018

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