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Four County Commissioner’s Final Meeting

Karen Shade - January 4, 2017 9:45 am

The Saline County Commission met for the first time in 2017 on Tuesday, and it was the last meeting for four of the five commissioners. After conducting business, each reflected on their time on the commission. First, though, there was business to take care of.

With the potential of saving $60,101 in total costs, Saline County Commissioners voted 5-0 to accept an offer to allow Road and Bridge drivers to “test” a SANY excavator for a week.  This means four newly elected commissioners will award the bid in a few weeks.

Road and Bridge staff had recommended going with a more expensive John Deere model, in part because the bid specifications contained language that the “County’s performance experience with make and model” were to be considered.

Matt Crawford, representing Kough Equipment, drove from Farmington KY to attend the study session.  Crawford said that SANY is the world’s fourth largest construction equipment manufacturer and over 800,000 excavators have been sold in the United States.  The SANY excavator uses a Cummins engine and Kawasaki hydraulics.  He addressed R&B Superintendent Darren Fishel’s concerns about timeliness of repairs and availability of loaner equipment.

Fishel’s request for action states “the County has owned several John Deere excavators over the years and they have proven to be reliable and dependable.  John Deere equipment is quality machinery which we know will hold its value.  If the funds are not available to replace it at the time of repurchase, Saline County will still have a machine in good functioning condition with local repair and service available to our department in a timely manner” if the County awarded the bid to Murphy Tractor.

Kough Equipment bid $176,799 for a SANYSY215 excavator, with a repurchase price of $72,000 and a net cost of $104,799.  Murphy Tractor in Topeka bid $236,900 for a John Deere 219GLC excavator with a $100,000 repurchase price and a net cost of $136,900.  Van Keppel in Topeka bid $224,500 for a Volvo EC220E, with a repurchase price of $55,000 and a net cost of $169,500.  Victor Phillips in Topeka, bid $222,532 for a Case CX210D, with a repurchase price of $46,000 and a net cost of $176,532.  Foley Equipment in Salina bid $214,432 for a CAT320F, but did not bid a re-purchase price, so the bid was excluded.  Representatives from Foley asked the Commission to consider a trade-in value.  Sellers Equipment in Salina did not submit a bid.

Commissioner John Price has been vocal at recent meetings that commissioners weren’t involved in the issuing of bids.  He learned of the excavator bid at a Kansas Association of Counties meeting in mid-November.  Commissioners had approved Road and Bridge’s 2017 budget in August.

Commissioners-elect Robert Vidrickson, Rodger Sparks and Jim Weese attended today’s meeting and voiced no reservations about awarding the bid, after the “test drive”.

Lapsley Road Vacation Denied

In another 5-0 decision, Commissioners declined Matt Everhart’s request that the County vacate Lapsley Road between Donmyer and Amos Roads.  Matt and Jay Everhart own properties to the north and south of Lapsley Road; the County no longer maintains a bridge on this section of road.

Danny Schwarz, who lives in Dickenson County and farms where Donmyer and Lapsley intersect, spoke of safety concerns as he and others bring 16 foot wide equipment down Donmyer; he described it as a “devil’s washboard” as there are four hills to traverse.  He said Laplsey had only one hill and had wide enough ditches that allow for vehicles to pass.  He said Saline County Rural Fire Department #1’s Board considers Lapsley Road to be a “natural fire break”.  He said that granting the vacation could create a three mile stretch that lacked through roads.

Price moved “not to close the road and to look into maintenance concerns, as one person has use for” this section of road.  The motion was seconded by Gile.  Both Jay Everhart and Schwarz agreed that a “low spot” or “whistle” required attention.  They identified maintenance concerns to Fishel.

County’s Sales Tax Revenues Fall Short

December’s monthly sales tax revenue was $353,002, down 8.9% from the $384,903 collected in December 2015.  2016’s sales tax collections of $4,623,407 was down only 0.94% from the $4,667,362 collected in 2015.

When asked to identify a cause, County Administrator Rita Deister suggested perhaps more individuals were shopping on-line.  The State’s income tax forms contain a section where on-line purchasers are supposed to be declared and purchasers can then pay the State sales tax.  Price speculated that farmers had less money to spend for new vehicles at the end of the year.

Merriman Set to Retire

Don Merriman has served as the County’s Clerk for 17 years.  He said he and his staff have worked to make Saline County’s Clerk office the best in the state, noting that “all are working for the good of the citizens”.

For a decade, he served on a federal task force charged with improving voter accessibility.  He’s served on multiple committees at the request of Kansas’ Secretary of State.  He has worked closely with many county entities; Road and Bridge and EXPO Center staff delivered voting machines or readied polling places.

Jamie Doss, incoming County Clerk and longtime member of his staff, presented Merriman with a clock.  Chairman Monte Shadwick presented Merriman with a certificate of appreciation.

Outgoing Commissioners Offer Reflections

Price said he appreciated the four years he has served on the commission.  He said he campaigned that there would be no new EXPO Center, no uniform development code, and to keep the mil levy the same.  He was pleased with how the Health Department’s building and improvements to the Road and Bridge shop have turned out.

Gile thanked the public for allowing him to serve as a commissioner.  He thanked staff in the Administrative Resource Center by name and said he is proud to have 318 county employees “on board”.

Commissioner Luci Larson noted that she was appointed by the Governor to serve a two year term.  She said, “Staff are friendly.  They are there to help people who are coming to them for answers”.  She also thanked the media.

Commissioner Dave Smith also was appointed to serve a two year term.  He said he wanted to bring the Biblical principles of justice and righteousness, as these were two things that “God expects from government”.

During the study session, outgoing commissioners spent at least 30 minutes describing the boards they have served on.  Gile again advocated that incoming commissioners consider keeping the same representative to the juvenile board and Central Kansas Mental Health boards; the Commission’s representative has a vote on these boards; Gile said consistency is important.

New Commissioners to be Sworn in Monday, January 9

Robert Vidrickson, Rodger Sparks, Jim Weese and Mike White will be sworn in on Monday, January 9th.  The ceremony is to take place in Room 304 of the City-County Building.

The City has extended a request to meet incoming County Commissioners.  A social time was suggested before a Kansas Wesleyan University basketball game, on either January 14th or 21st.  Tim Horan, reporter for the Salina Journal questioned Deister when she said that the “social” would not be open to the public.