County Approves Salary Increase

In a 4-1 decision, the Saline County Board of Commissioners approved reclassifying the County Appraiser’s position to grade 27, step 3.  County Appraiser Sean Robertson will move from pay grade 26, step 3 to pay grade 27, step 3.

Commissioner Jim Weese said that the pay reflected the “fair market”, adding Saline County has “a good appraiser and it’s a God send”.

Commissioner Robert Vidricksen voted against the reclassification, and warned that it will “open up the door for others to come in and seek job reclassifications”.  Earlier this year, newly elected County Clerk Jamie Allen’s request to increase her salary was denied by the same commission.

Commissioners deliberated in executive session for 20 minutes today and had met in an executive session with Robertson earlier this summer.

Sewer Problems Abound

The jail and the City-County Building each have sewer problems that require prompt attention, and will likely cost $14,000 each to fix.

Sheriff Roger Soldan said a tree planted on the south side of the jail had “ruined” lateral sewer lines.  He asked County Administrator Rita Deister to treat this matter as an emergency.  Given existing policies, the administrator can waive the requirement for competitive sealed bids in this amount if she feels going out to bid is not practical.  Both Deister and Soldan predicted it would be a disaster if the problem was not addressed promptly.  Soldan said 40 inmates are housed in this section of the “old” jail.

Earlier, at the Building Authority meeting, maintenance director Duane Grace said a septic pump recently failed and he acted unilaterally to order a new pump.  Inspection of a second septic pump showed that it too could fail at any time.  Both pumps were installed in 1968.  Grace said if that second pump failed, bathrooms on the first floor would have to be closed.  After a spirited discussion on the merits of rebuilding v buying new pumps, the Building Authority agreed to purchase a second new pump, assuming it has a standard factory warranty, for $5,675.  Grace said it will take 2 to 3 weeks before each of the new pumps arrive.

Soldan said the jail’s sewer problems are being addressed by City Plumbing.  Grace said the City-County Building’s problems are being addressed by Drains Plus.  County Commissioner Mike White quipped, “It happens” and one “has to deal with it”.

Five Year Capital Improvement Plan

Deister presented Commissioners with a five year capital improvement plan that compiles recommendations from the different department heads.  She said “the dollars are stunning, but that’s what people need”.

In that draft are:

  • HVAC, “chiller”, boiler controls, boilers, and electrical panel costs for the Sheriff’s Office are projected to cost $253,500 in 2019. A new roof for the Sheriff’s Office in 2021, costing $250,000 and a fix to the jail roof’s drainage costing $25,000 in 2020.  In 2021, “prime coat” is projected to cost $120,000.  In 2022, updating intercom stations is projected to cost $200,000.
  • New roof projected for the Health Department in 2022, with an unspecified cost. Repairs to floors, in the amount of $60,000 are projected for 2021.  The health department building underwent extensive repairs in 2012.
  • LED signs, with one projected for the Health Department in 2020 for $20,949 and two projected for the EXPO Center sometime between 2018 and 2020 (one for the EXPO Center and one for the Greeley street entrance). The Commission projects to have $550,000 available for EXPO Center upgrades, if the City Commission extends the lease on the current site.
  • A new pedestrian bridge, requested by Road and Bridge, for 2018 has a cost of $150,000; also in 2018, R&B projects a storage tank containment for $75,000 and a truck barn repair for $100,000.
  • Pavement replacement, for Road and Bridge, for both 2019 and 2020 has an estimated cost of $600,000 each year. In 2021, Road and Bridge is asking for a new salt barn, at a proposed cost of $200,000 and in 2022, a new equipment storage shed at $375,000.
  • Emergency Management requested a new SUV in 2018 for $36,000 and will likely request an update to their operations center in 2019 for $25,000.
  • A new mail machine for Administrative Resources Center is needed in 2023 at a cost of $36,000.
  • GIS is requesting land records or CIP aerial photography in the annual amount of $29,000 each year.
  • Updates to various Information Technologies were approved in 2018 for the amount of $150,000 for 2018, with $219,690 projected for 2019.

Sign Code Updated

Commissioners unanimously agreed to adopt a new sign code that reflecting a recent US Supreme Court’s reaffirmation of citizens’ right to free speech.

Neal said that “dealing with signs is the hardest part” of his job.  He put all language related to “signs” in the code in one place.  He referred to a “substitute” clause that “allows a free speech sign where there is a commercial sign”.  Neal said the overriding goal is driver’s safety, with no distractions in the driver’s visual field.  He said that signs that can be seen from State highways still require a permit from the State.

KWU Emergency Management Partnership

Commissioners unanimously agreed to sign an updated emergency management partnership agreement with Kansas Wesleyan University.  The five year agreement will promote better communication and stronger relationships, and work with students seeking careers in emergency management.  Specifically, they will partner to place additional weather stations throughout the county, bring in guest lecturers, and promote job shadowing and personal preparedness.  Currently, 25 full-time students are enrolled in KWU’s emergency management program.

Commissioners also approved an emergency management grant that is used to fund part of the department’s deputy director’s salary.

Other County Commission Business

Commissioners met in a twice extended executive session, for a total of 70 minutes, with Deister, County Counselor Mike Montoya and Rick Lamer, EXPO Center Director.  No action was taken and “attorney/client privilege” was cited as the reason for the session.

Weese reported that the Council on Aging received its 2013 audit last week.  The 2014 and 2015 audits were promised for next week’s meeting.  The COA recently received a grant of $5,000 from Meals on Wheels.

Vidricksen reported that the Salina Airport Authority is working with the City to upgrade the entrance into the city from Beechcraft Road.  Five new entities are looking at using space at the SAA.

Commissioner Rodger Sparks said the Fair Board thanked all those who turned out to participate in a successful fair.

Other Building Authority Meeting Topics

The Building Authority will proceed with announcing competitive bidding for a roofing project at the City-County Building, so that bids will be opened prior to its next meeting on September 26th.

Grace said his staff had consulted with other professionals to prioritize projects to be completed.

  • Inspecting and addressing any issues with storm pumps was given top priority.
  • Stabilizing sidewalks and addressing any tripping hazards was given second priority.
  • Addressing issues with brickwork was given third priority.