County Approves Road Improvement Plan

In short order, the Saline County Commission approved a resolution to improve roads.  Approval of the resolution was needed today by County Clerk Jamie Allen, in order to set the mil levy.

While the Commission’s 2018 budget includes 1.0 mil funding for the program, it is clear that after today’s study session, discussions will need to continue to decide which projects to tackle and how to pay for them.

County Engineer Neil Cable said that 1.0 mil will raise in excess of $500,000 a year.  Possible projects on South Ohio or Simpson Road might cost $6,000,000 or more to complete, and therefore translate into 12 to 15 years devoted to a single “road improvement”.  

Cable said the funds could be collected until they are sufficient to pay for a project.  Or the project could be completed and the fund could be used to pay off the project.  Other options include bonding or creating benefit districts (where local citizens agree to raise a significant portion of the costs for a particular road improvement and the County contributes a smaller percentage).

Commissioner Jim Weese asked Cable to confirm that with all the money the commission budgets the Road and Bridge Department that all of the money goes to road maintenance and none of it is earmarked for road improvements.  Weese added that this resolution might “kick start and get something going”.

Cable said that a “prime and double seal” program could yield an improved surface at significantly less cost than paving, provided these segments of road receive additional attention in 5 to 6 years.  Cable said he frequently gets requests for roads to be paved after significant rainstorms.

Commissioner Rodger Sparks asked if the road maintenance staff follow the steps outlined in a 2016 county brochure.  Sparks spoke in favor of efforts to recreate ditches and rights of way.  Sparks referred to a South Dakota publication on maintaining roads; Cable said that South Dakota devotes considerably more money to road maintenance than Saline County.  For example, the South Dakota publication references using 6” of gravel on dirt roads, while Saline County and many of its neighbors apply 1 ½ inches of gravel to dirt roads.

Up next may be a road trip so commissioners can see the different demonstration projects Cable referenced.  Chairman Monte Shadwick said these decisions may be among the most important that the commission makes.

Sheriff’s Office Parking Lot Replacement

Commissioners unanimously approved a capital improvement request to replace both the south and northwest asphalt parking lots at the Sheriff’s Office with concrete.  T&R Dirt Construction will sequentially complete the work from March to May 2018.

Major Brent Melander said many “quick fixes” had been made to repair the parking lots since 1994.  In 2015, the Sheriff’s Office requested $72,501 in its CIP budget to replace the 2” overlay on the parking lots but this work was not done.  Recently, Cable inspected the parking lots and determined they are beyond the 2” overlay approach.  Cable said much of the curbs and gutters are in good condition and won’t be part of the replacement.

Commissioners approved the $172,890 for concrete, which should be more durable.  However, Commissioners requested a reduction in the Sheriff’s Office 2018 CIP budget request for parking lot improvements; the money will remain in their CIP fund and will be available for emergency uses.

Sparks and Weese both asked questions about on-going sewer repair problems that also have not been budgeted.    

Cell Tower Resolution

Planning and Zoning Director David Neal said there “is not a lot of local control as the State deregulated” many issues surrounding cell towers.  Commissioners unanimously adopted the required changes.  The meeting agenda contains the detailed changes.

Fireworks Discussion

Emergency Management Director Hannah Stambaugh met with the Fire Chief and Fire Marshal, after informing the City Manager, to discuss whether the City had any desire to be part of any approval process for firework displays occurring outside the June 27th to July 4th time frame.  These events often occur at the County Club.  Stambaugh said the Salina Fire Department had no jurisdiction in the County; they also are not particularly concerned about noise issues.

Weese wondered if other stakeholders may have an interest in these displays.  He said the County had asked the City Manager, Fire Chief and Fire Marshal to be part of this and they’d shown no interest.  Shadwick said that city residents are county residents, and some have complained about these displays.  

Shadwick said that he sometimes feels pressure to approve requests, as the event is scheduled to occur shortly.  Stambaugh said she requires all requests be submitted to her office 30 days before the proposed event, but she often has to obtain some of the necessary paperwork herself.  Because there is no fee associated with processing the request, Commissioners contemplated if this would be desirable.

Discussion turned to the $1,000 fee charged to firework stands in the county.  Stambaugh advocates that this money be collected and used to enhance, replace, develop and sustain communication capabilities in the county.  If approved, the $1,000 fee will be deposited in a special communication fund and the commission will then make decisions about how the fund is to be spent.

In Other Matters


Awarded a contract for $70,934 to Pavement Pros LLC for crack seal work to be completed this fall.

Weese reported he’d attended last week’s Commission on Aging’s meeting and that things are moving forward on the transition.  County Administrator Rita Deister reported she’d used the Health Department’s by-laws as a template to draft by-laws for a yet unnamed County Department on Aging; these are before the County Counselor.

Heard Livestock and EXPO Center Director Rick Lamer’s quarterly report.  The Tri-Rivers Fair had ten concessions, up from six last year; he also saw more livestock exhibited than in previous years.  The Charity Horse Show has been raising money for 26 years; the benefactor of this year’s show is Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

The Commission met in two executive sessions; one was for 10 minutes and dealt with attorney/client privilege and second was for 15 minutes and dealt with non-elected personnel.  

Learned that certain individuals and the election office are receiving an uptick in e-mail attacks.  IT Director Brad Bowers suggested that a “contact us” form be developed.

Commissioner Robert Vidricksen was absent.

As an announcement, early voting begun today and will continue until Noon, on Monday, November 6th at the County Clerk’s Office.  Election Day is Tuesday, November 7th.


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