County Approves Shoulder Work

In a 3-1 vote, Saline County Commissioners accepted a bid to improve shoulders along roads that are heavily traveled by solid waste (aka trash removal) trucks.  The improvements will occur on the county maintained West Crawford to State Highway 140, south on Burma Road to Farley Road, and a section of Water Well Road.

County Engineer Neil Cable showed Commissioners pictures of two to six inch drop offs–from where the road’s asphalt ends and the “shoulder” begins.  The proposed work will rebuild and add gravel to the shoulders.  The low bid, submitted by APAC-Kansas, Inc., allows the County to complete an additional segment of related roadway on Ohio Avenue.

Money to make the $200,000+ shoulder improvements will come from a fund that contains what remains from landfill tipping fees.  A 1995 interlocal agreement between the City and County established a $2 per ton “tipping fee” to be paid to the County to mitigate impacts from the solid waste landfill, located outside city limits.  In 2011, the City abruptly discontinued making “tipping fee” payments to the County.  Cable wrote “All costs associated with the designated solid waste haul routes have been borne since 2011 entirely by Saline County.”

In Open Forum, Commissioner John Price noted that the County “still hasn’t gotten tipping fees and we’re still in a lawsuit” with the City over an unrelated matter.  Price said he didn’t “feel comfortable spending money on this until the” legal issues are settled with the City.  He noted that the County invested a million dollars into repairing the road four years ago, when he took office.  Price voted against today’s measure.

Commissioner Dave Smith said he didn’t know how not completing this work would force the City to pay tipping fees.  Chairman Monte Shadwick said he believed that “safety concerns outweigh the law suit”.

Commissioner Jim Gile noted that a three mile stretch along Country Club Road had nineteen accidents before shoulder improvements were made; Gile said accidents have dramatically reduced since the work was done.  Smith, Shadwick and Gile voted to conduct the work.  Commissioner Luci Larson was absent.

EXPO Center

Smith and Price reported on a September 21st meeting of EXPO Center stakeholders.  Some requested additional electrical and water outlets for motor homes be added to the site.  Shadwick will speak at tomorrow’s Chamber of Commerce meeting; he plans to provide a summary of the economic value that various events hosted at the EXPO Center has had for both the city and county.

Community Corrections Reports Accepted

Commissioners accepted three year-end reports that Community Corrections Director Annie Grevas must submit to the Kansas Department of Corrections.  One report identified program outcomes.  Saline and Ottawa Counties comprise the 28th Judicial District.  The State tracks “successful” and “revoked” offender file completions.  In 2016, the local Community Corrections agency had a “success rate” that fluctuated quarterly between 68.5%-71.7%, which is a sizable improvement from 2015’s 63.7% rate.  Grevas said she’d like to see a success rate of 75%.

Grevas said her agency is the fifth largest in the state.  She identified “Topeka and Reno” as being comparable.  In 2015, Shawnee County (where Topeka is located) had an 83.7% success rate while Reno County had a 71.9% success rate.

Grevas said Community Corrections doesn’t determine which of the clients it serves will have their services revoked and will be sent to prison.  Grevas said that judges and the County Attorney make the decisions to send individuals to prison.  She noted that Community Corrections continues to grow, with increasing demands that they provide services to the homeless and mentally ill, but they have not been able to add staff.  She said that in order to get the full picture of who is being sent to prison, additional information from the state’s parole office, Court Services, as well as the district and municipal courts must also be considered.

Copy Costs

During Open Forum, Randall Holmes said he had sought copies of information from the County Appraiser’s office and that he felt the fee for obtaining these copies was excessive.  The County charges $1 for the first page of a document and then 25 cents for each additional page.  Because Holmes requested copies of multiple documents, he said that the resulting fees charged him amounted to “paying a clerk” the equivalent of $74 to $75/hour.  He said it was “improper for the County to make a profit”.

The Commission went into three executive sessions.  The Commission met from 8:30 AM until 11:50, with an adjournment for over an hour.