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County, Sheriff Resolve Budget Issues

Karen Shade - June 20, 2017 5:10 pm

Sheriff Roger Soldan visited today’s Saline County Commission meeting to appeal the commission’s preliminary decisions regarding his budget.  Soldan had asked for a $300,000 contingency fund as well as monies for specific repair projects, such as for the parking lot.

The resulting conversation might have seemed pretty mundane, but it appears that a miscommunication has been corrected.  The County has been setting aside money in the county’s capital reserve fund for jail repairs.  The Sheriff doesn’t see this in the Sheriff’s Office/Jail budget, but over $398,000 is in a county fund to make long term and long needed improvements at the Sheriff’s Office.

With that cleared up, Soldan agreed he would not need additional contingency funds for capital repairs.  Both Chairman Monte Shadwick and Soldan agreed that the commission has done their best to give the Sheriff’s Office a realistic budget.

Follow-Up on Joint EXPO Center Tour

Following last week’s joint tour of the EXPO Center with the Salina City Commission, the County Commission discussed what might be likely next steps.  Shadwick said it would be unlikely that the current city commission would formulate a specific plan for the county to implement before extending the lease.  County Administrator Rita Deister agreed, saying the city commission will “want to see our plans and how we’ll invest money” into the existing structures.  Some commissioners expressed surprise that the city commission views the $600,000 that the county has set aside for upgrades to the EXPO Center as “maintenance” and not as “capital improvements”.

Desiter supplied commissioners with copies of past agreements that show the City gave the County Ag Hall and Tri-Rivers Arena.  The 4-H Building and Kenwood Hall are more recent construction; these along with five barns and an administrative area are summarily referred to as the EXPO Center.  The City retains ownership of the land; its lease of the land to the County expires in August 2019.  The County can then remove the buildings or give them back to the City—while the City retains its ability to charge the County for demolition of those same buildings.

During last week’s tour, Stacie Lundquist said that the EXPO Center’s Ag Hall has a “sister building” in Ardmore, Oklahoma that has been added to and expanded over the years.  It is known as the Hardy Murphy Coliseum; the complex includes covered walkways so animals don’t have to go outside between the barns and show arena.  Deister provided the county commission with details on how that building has been remodeled over time.

County Commissioners have yet to revisit a series of EXPO Center that were completed perhaps in 2006 or 2008.  At that time, many options for the present location as well as another location were considered.  Deister said she and Commissioner Mike White plan to sort through the study and present what might still be relevant to the 2017 Commission.

County Auditor Weighs in on Special Road Improvement Fund

Commissioners have intended to dedicate an as yet-to-be-determined mil levy to fund on-going gravel road upgrades, much like the existing 2 mil bridge fund that is used to replace bridges.  Randy Hofmeier, who serves as the hired auditor, advised Deister that in implementing such a fund (under State statute 68-559a), the public would need to be permitted a “90 day protest period”.  Disgruntled citizens could force the issue to be decided by election, if a petition drive was successful.  Commissioners concluded it might be too late to formalize such a road fund this year, but agreed they could still budget to begin making actual improvements starting in 2018.  If the measure is formally adopted, the Commission would then have a mechanism for systematically funding future improvements from 2019 on.

Deister said that the 2016 audit was completed and no deficiencies were noted.  Shadwick complemented Deister and her staff for the work they do year-round to insure a successful audit.

 

Juvenile Detention Center Budget Calculations

Last week, the Commission asked for clarification on how the Juvenile Detention Center, in Junction City, charged the county for housing juveniles in its facility.  Previously, juveniles were housed in a separate facility staffed by the Saline County’s Sheriff’s Office.  Because staffing requirements are considerably higher for juveniles, the State pays the facility $120/day to house its detainees, while members of the county cooperative pay $150/day to house their juvenile detainees.  As reference, Saline County pays $35/day on average to house its adult inmates in other counties.

Detention Center Director Shawn Brandmahl reviewed a spreadsheet that outlined the center’s funding formula.  It operates with an annual budget of $1,500,000; of this, $850,000 is paid for by the 15 county cooperative.  In 2012 and 2013, Saline County used 794 bed days each year.  The numbers dropped in2014 to 666 and in 2015 to 614.  In 2016, Saline County only needed to utilize the facility for 105 bed days, a dramatic drop that prompted the commission to question the center’s budget request for $357,872.  Brandmahl’s handout showed how a five year rolling average based on the census is used to calculate what individual counties are asked to contribute.  Brandmahl noted that while Saline County’s number of bed days decreased last year, other counties saw increases in the number of their juveniles detained at the center.  There seems to be wide fluctuations in the number of juveniles housed there each year by the different counties.

Other County business included:

  • Hearing plans to purchase an image enabling licenses that will allow the County Attorney’s support staff to be able to send “e-files” related to legal filings without the staff having to scan those images into a copier. The Commission plans to vote on this next week.
  • Commissioners toured the office space currently occupied by the K-State Extension Service, which plans to move out to the K-State Polytechnic campus in October. The extension service currently pays rent for the space it occupies.  According to a prior agreement, the County may have priority claim to utilizing this space.  The County Attorney and other entities have sought additional space.

Building Authority Looks at Upgrading the City County Building Roof

The City County’s Building Authority met at 8:00 AM.  This separate board consists of three county commissioners, two city commissioners, a representative of the courts, and a member at large.  The budget for 2018 was reviewed.

Donnie Marrs, owner and principal of DMA Architects, approached the BA Board about the possibility of upgrading and improving the existing roof, so it could withstand winds of 90 miles per hour.  Marrs said that in a disaster, both city and county offices would need to continue to function.  Marrs said the upgrades could be fully covered under insurance.  County Commissioner Bob Vidricksen moved to waive the request for proposal requirements, often associated with such projects, as DMA Architects already has the plans and unique knowledge of the existing roof.  Measure passed 6-0.  Then Marrs provided the BA Board with a two page proposal outlining the benefits of having his firm oversee an upgrade.  If the BA approves a contract, DMA Architects would receive a fee of $10,000 for offering technical assistance in writing the bid, in reviewing bids, and in overseeing the work.  City Commissioner Jon Blanchard then moved to accept the proposal.  Motion carried unanimously.  Marrs will proceed with drawing up a contract that will be further reviewed by city and county counselors.  The BA will then decide, at a future meeting, whether to sign that contract or not.

Commissioner Rodger Sparks was absent from both the Building Authority and County Commission meetings.

The County Commission agreed to meet on Wednesday, July 5—a change necessitated by the Fourth of July holiday.