County Eyes Dedicating One Mil to Fund Road Improvements

As work on the 2018 budget continues, Saline County Commissioners are moving forward with plans to dedicate one mil to go to a gravel road upgrade.  County Chairman Monte Shadwick expressed a preference for setting a specific mil levy, saying that “if it is a dollar amount, Commissioners will argue about it each year”.  A mil represents roughly $600,000.

Commissioners Robert Vidricksen and Mike White expressed their preference for dedicating one mil to road improvements, even though Kansas statute 68-559a allows Commissioners to dedicate up to two mils, for up to a five year period to road construction projects.  At the end of five years, Commissioners could pass a resolution to continue, that is subject to a 90 day waiting period.

Commission on Aging Updates

Commissioner Jim Weese updated Commissioners on a meeting he and County Administrator Rita Deister attended last week with the Commission on Aging.  Though the COA is already an entity of the County, a special board is looking at the “possibilities and ramifications” of the COA becoming a department of the County.

During a study session, Shadwick said he is “wary” of the COA becoming a County department but twice said he was willing to keep looking at the issue as discussions progress.

Vidricksen asked what impact bringing the COA in would have on the salary structure and benefits.  Deister acknowledged that such a move might bring salary increases to COA staff.

County Counselor Mike Montoya said it appeared to him that the County provides approximately 1/3 of the COA’s annual operating budget of $1.8 to 1.9 million dollars.  The County provides annual support of over $300,000.  The County also allows the COA to use the old courthouse rent free, while paying the building’s insurance and providing for its maintenance.

Weese said, “The County has resources.  We’re getting more involved whichever way this gets settled.”  Vidricksen said that similar organizations, like CASA, do specific fund raising to support their organization.  It is not known if becoming a county department will impact the COA’s ability to seek grants.

The Commission is waiting for the COA’s 2013 audit to be completed; they were assured that this is a problem with staffing at Clubine and Rettele, a certified public accounting firm in Salina.

Commissioners also:

  • Agreed to purchase, for $18,595, an image enabling license for the Justice Systems, Inc. Full Case application software for the County Attorney’s Office. According to IT Director Brad Bowers, “with the onset of e-filing, mandated by the State of Kansas, uploading and attaching legal documents to cases has increased the workload of staff considerably”.  He said support staff must wait to use one to two copiers to scan documents before they can then be attached to cases.  The license will require an annual maintenance agreement, starting in 2018, of $1,859/year.
  • Heard an update on activities at the Salina Airport Authority. Vidricksen said that the Authority is building hangars and has a waiting list for those wishing to rent hangars.  Enplanements have increased 4 fold over a year ago.  The Authority is also looking at refinancing its bonds.
  • Heard an update about mosquitos from Health Department Director Jason Tiller. In an effort to prevent mosquitos from laying eggs, Tiller is encouraging the public to dump out standing water out of containers and old tires on Wednesdays.  Tiller said, “Wednesday is hump day, so it makes sense to call this dump day”.  In spaces where it is not possible to dump out the water, Tiller advocated for using “mosquito dunk” tablets that can be put in standing water that then interfere with mosquito larvae’s’ ability to develop.
  • Learned that gh2 Gralla Architects, who conducted a 2002 study of the EXPO Center, had also completed the master plan and construction documents for the remodel of the Hardy Murphy Coliseum in Ardmore Oklahoma. The Grady County Fairground arena in Chickasha, Oklahoma has also recently been remodeled.  Commissioners granted permission to send Deister and EXPO Center Director Rick Lamer on a field trip to inspect these facilities.  Vidricksen wondered if perhaps the City would be willing to formally partner with the County in both funding and overseeing an EXPO Center board.  It was reported that the Ardmore facility receives a bed tax to pay for its improvements.
  • Learned that Deister contacted both the County Attorney and Court Services about the possible availability of office space on the second floor of the City-County Building. The Commission is considering the possibility of moving administrative services to the first floor and occupying space to be vacated by the K-State Extension Service.
  • Agreed to declare old exam tables and a 1964 Minneapolis Moline front end loader as having no value, so they can be placed on the Purple Wave auction site.

A thirty minute executive session dealt with employee/employer negotiations; a twenty minute executive session featured Montoya on the topic of “attorney/client privilege”.