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County Declares Health Emergency

Todd PittengerSeptember 16, 2020

In an effort to secure resources if needed, a public health emergency is in effect for  Saline County.

Saline County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to approve the Declaration of a State of Local Public Health Emergency for 60-days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This emergency declaration allows for the county to submit resource requests to the State of Kansas, continue emergency sheltering, and the ability to track expenditures for reimbursement.

In other business on Tuesday:

  • Commissioners nominated County Clerk, Jamie Doss, for the At Large Trustee position on the Kansas Workers’ Compensation Solution for Kansas Counties Board.
  • Commissioners signed an agreement with Aflac to continue to offer group policies for supplemental insurance.
  • Commissioners signed an agreement with to post job vacancies on their public sector job posting site to increase exposure to the employment vacancies that the
    County has. The annual subscription is $600.
  • Michelle Barkley, Emergency Management Director, brought two emergency sheltering agreements in front of the Commission. Webster Conference Center and the First
    Covenant Church have been evaluated and determined that these locations are adequate and offer unique opportunities to shelter individuals temporarily when their homes have
    been destroyed by the result of a natural disaster or other emergency disasters. Commissioners approved both agreements.
  • Commissioners voted to approve the Declaration of a State of Local Public Health Emergency for Saline County for 60-days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This emergency declaration allows for Saline County to submit resource requests to the State of Kansas, continue emergency sheltering, and the ability to track expenditures for reimbursement.
  • Commissioners approved a long list of items as no value to be sold in an upcoming Purple Wave auction. Any proceeds from the sale of these items will be deposited into the General Fund.
  • Commissioners reviewed the proposed cost break down between the County and the City of Salina and reviewed several financing options for the emergency communications system project and continuing contract negotiations with Motorola. Staff worked with the City to break out costs associated with the backbone infrastructure, subscriber radios, 911 dispatch center, other services, and maintenance. In the end, Commissioners were presented with the cost breakdown of $10,962,757.10 for the County’s portion of the contract and $3,818,150.33 for the City of Salina. The City’s share is for items directly related to the 911 dispatch center, subscriber radios for their departments, and their portion of maintenance and services associated directly with the dispatch center. The County’s cost-share includes all of the backbone infrastructure, tower costs, County department subscriber radios, maintenance associated with the backbone infrastructure, and other services. The contract that is being negotiated with Motorola is for 15 years. The County has allocated funds in the Capital Improvement Plan of $600,000 that staff also asked the Commissioners to expend those funds as part of what would be due at contract signing. Commissioners did vote to affirm the County’s share of the costs associated with the radio project and authorized the expenditure of funds. Contract negotiations continue and staff plans on presenting a final contract with Motorola to the County Commission for consideration on September 22nd.
  • The other part of the request for action was for the Commissioners to explore the different financing options for the remainder of the cost of the emergency communications system project:
    o Traditional lease-purchase
    o Establish a Public Building Commission for financing
    o Use of leas-backed bonds (certificates of participation)
    o Use general obligation bonds for the non-real estate portions of the contract and use cash from the Capital Improvement Fund to pay the remainder
    o Finance the planned improvements at the Expo Center and then use the cash saved for the Expo Center improvements in Capital Improvement Plan for the radio project
    o Use additional cash from Capital Improvement Plan to decrease the amount financed with a traditional lease

County Administrator, Phillip Smith-Hanes, noted to the Commission that the County does have about 30% of the County’s annual budget in cash reserves as well as a healthy amount in the Capital Improvement Fund for already identified projects. This project has been identified in the County’s Capital Improvement Plan. Mr. Smith-Hanes went through the different pros and cons of each financing option. In the end, staff made the recommendation to establish a Public Building Commission to finance the radio project. This particular option offers the lowest potential interest rate while preserving cash in the Capital Improvement Fund. Commissioners asked several questions of staff, bond counsel, and financial advisor. Commissioners voted to direct staff to pursue the
establishment of a Public Building Commission to finance the remainder of the County’s share of the radio project.

  • Human Resources Director, Marilyn Leamer, provided an update for her department. Thirteen (13) new hires were made from mid-July to mid-September, six (6) employees who were transferred or promoted, and eight (8) that are no longer employed with the County. The Department continues to focus on filling vacancies, planning for County In-Service training, and completing open enrollment for benefits.
  • Phillip Smith-Hanes, County Administrator provided his weekly update reporting on the Coronavirus Relief Funds. The committee meets at 2:30 pm September 15th to discuss the plan with the Chamber Foundation, review applications from the other agencies that will receive funds, and discuss further processes moving forward. This meeting can be viewed on the County’s YouTube channel. Mr. Smith-Hanes also reported on the different meetings that staff plan on attending to discuss the Jail Project with the other City Councils and civic organizations. He noted that informational flyers have been printed and are available for distribution.

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