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Commission on Aging to Study Becoming County Department

Karen Shade - May 24, 2017 8:36 am

The Saline County Commission on Aging, which provides umbrella services such as Meals on Wheels and the Salina Senior Center, will study if the COA would be better served by becoming a department of the County.

Executive Director Leslie Eikleberry wrote in an e-mail that the “COA Board voted to form a committee to explore the idea of moving the COA from what it is now, to a county department”.  County Commissioner Jim Weese attends COA board meetings.  County Commissioners saw that the County could play a role in helping the COA with payroll services, legal matters and audits.

Since 2014, the County has appropriated $305,000/year to the COA, along with $18,635 for capital improvements and $4,827 for grants.  In 2017, the County made the first of a planned annual $20,000 payment toward the “roof fund”.  For 2018, the COA requested a 40% increase in general operating fundstaking this to $428,626/year, along with maintaining appropriations for capital improvement and grants.  The COA also receives donations and revenues from renting space and teaching classes.

County Administrator Rita Deister said the County “may be able to assist them without taking them over”.  Weese said the “intent was to be better stewards of the money the County gives them”.  Commissioner Robert Vidricksen wondered about the agency’s ability to obtain grants to help fund operations.  Chairman Monte Shadwick wanted to answer the question of “can we partner with them to be more efficient?”

Saline County Will Have Five Firework Stands

Planning and Zoning Director David Neal told Commissioners that five firework stands will be located within the county for the 4th of July holiday “week”; this is an increase of one fireworks stand from last year.  Application fees, amounting to $5,000, will be distributed among the rural fire districts, who are charged with inspecting the firework stands.

Neal said that fireworks can be shot off from June 27 through July 5th in the county.  The City limits fireworks to July 3-4.

Neal reminded residents to not throw fireworks on roads, not to throw them out the window of a car, and not to light them within 300 feet of a fireworks stand.

Next year, Neal said individuals will be allowed to pre-order fireworks from non-profits (much like individuals’ pre-order cookies or popcorn from the Scouts).  Neal said the sale would occur in that “June through July window” when the fireworks are actually transferred to the non-profits.

Budget Details

For about an hour, Commissioners answered Deister’s questions about their budget intentions.  She is now at the stage of finalizing earlier discussions to draft the budget document.

Shadwick confirmed that last year, the will of that Commission (consisting of Jim Gile, John Price, Dave Smith, Luci Larson and himself) was to cut the county budget by one mil.

This year, Commissioners Robert Vidricksen and Mike White want to meet their expressed goals of providing the Sheriff’s Office with a realistic budget, providing a salary increase for staff, and implementing a road improvement plan.  Shadwick said that the Commission could go back and trim that initial budget, after Deister makes a preliminary draft.  Deister will still have to wait for certain revenues to be determined and will need to work to meet the new requirements of a State Legislature mandated tax lid.  Historically, the final budget is approved in mid-August.

New County Clerk Jamie Allen asked for additional monies for supplies and technology upgrades.  Reacting to 50% increases in some line items, Shadwick noted that the increases “sounded like a lot” but then asked “have we properly funded” required items in prior years?  Allen noted that while postage and printing have increased by 900% and 1000% respectively, there was “nothing discretionary” in what was spent.  She hopes to e-mail ballots and change the size of printed materials to reduce future costs.  On the topic of replacing election equipment, Shadwick wants to put this item in the capital improvement budget, so monies will be there if needed.  He said the Commission takes public comment before voting on making any capital improvement purchases.

Commissioners will also take up whether law enforcement and other county staff may benefit from being able to use smart phones for their jobs.  Preliminary estimates from IT Director Brad Bowers ball parked total additional costs at $3,600/month.  One purpose of the smart phones will be to monitor changing weather situations in the field.

In other matters, Commissioners:

  • Signed a Drug Task Force interagency agreement. The City will assume more responsibility for the task force.  Deister said that the County will no longer be insuring vehicles that are in the process of being forfeited.  Captain Forrester appeared before the Commission to answer questions.
  • Learned that the Becoming a Mom parenting classes will be live streamed to Lincoln, Ottawa, Ellsworth, Cloud and Mitchell Counties. Maternal Child Health Coordinator Sherri LaFollette said that Saline County was one of two counties to show a marked decline in infant mortality.  From 2006-2010, 8.5 infants out of 1000 died in Saline County.  From 2011-2016, that rate dropped to 4.2 infant deaths per 1000.

Later in the afternoon, Commissioner Rodger Sparks, Weese and Deister met to hear architectural proposals for updating the Road and Bridge office area.