County Lifts Burn Ban

The Saline County Commission let expire a ban on outdoor burning.  Imposed at last week’s meeting, the ban prohibited the burning of fields and even the burning of trash.  Recent moisture received and predictions of future precipitation made this an easy decision.

Bernie Botson, Deputy Director of Emergency Management, said that although the burn ban has expired, his office may still “suspend burning” when wind speeds are predicted to reach certain levels.  Saline County residents who wish to do outdoor burning are urged to get a free burn permit, through the Emergency Management office, and to call that office on the day they plan to burn, to see if burning is permitted.

Mahan Road Right of Way Vacation

County Counselor Mike Montoya briefed Commissioners on unique dynamics regarding a right of way vacation request on Mahan Road.  He said the County could vacate a section of the road and deem that the bridge structure is unsafe.  County signs noting that the road is closed would then come down.  However, because up until 2 years ago, the road and bridge were open to public use, some of the public may see the absence of closure signs and wrongly assume the bridge had been fixed and re-opened.

Road and Bridge Superintendent Darren Fishel said it was beyond his department’s ability to demolish the bridge.  If that is the direction the Commission wishes to take, the County would need to hire a firm to demolish it.

Montoya mentioned the option of the County denying the vacation and keeping the closure signed, so no one uses the bridge.

Commissioner Mike White asked about ways to hold the County harmless against what the property owner or his neighbors might do.  Montoya suggested that an agreement could include a certificate of insurance as well as a hold harmless clause that would be contingent on the owner using a certified engineer to make improvements to the bridge.  This matter may come formally before the Board next week.

Essential Air Service Update

Commissioners received a letter from Tim Rogers, Director of the Salina Airport Authority.  In July 2016, 755 passengers used Great Lakes airline; in February, 2017, 1,317 did so.  He noted, “The significant Essential Air Service qualifier for Salina is that the Federal subsidy paid to Great Lakes must remain below $200 per passenger per year.  Since July 2016, the Great Lakes’ subsidy has averaged $159.  As passenger use increases, the subsidy per passenger decreases.  The current $1.99 million per year subsidy contract between US Department of Transportation and Great Lakes is scheduled to expire on 6/14/2018.  The Essential Air Service program is subject to annual authorization and appropriation legislation by US Congress.”

911 Seeks More Space

At a 911 committee meeting, County Administrator Rita Deister learned that 911 dispatchers are looking for a larger space.  They asked that the County pay half of a consultant’s fee to help them evaluate needs.  They also want to consider space that is currently occupied by K-State Extension in the City County Building, or the former Juvenile Justice facility.  Deister questioned if the County’s payment of a consultant’s fee was appropriate; she said that there is no certainty that these spaces are “up for grabs”.

In additional matters, the Commission:

  • Authorized a right of way vacation involving Cunningham Road. Delos Brown requested the vacation.  Later, the Commission voted that the county’s gate at this section had no value.
  • Agreed to permit Road and Bridge to solicit requests for proposal for architectural services to design improvements to their offices. As shop improvements have been completed, they estimate there will be $1.2 million in the budget to use for office renovations.
  • Were briefed by Planning and Zoning Director David Neal on new FEMA flood plain maps.
  • Signed an agreement to raise the price Saline County pays to house inmates in the Mitchell County jail from $30/day to $35/day.
  • Signed an agreement to house jail inmates at Osborne County’s jail.
  • Delayed signing an agreement with the Ellsworth Correctional Facility.
  • Agreed on the desirability of hearing from more than one possible vendor negotiating health insurance and general insurance needs for the County.
  • Received a variety of state average assessed valuation statistics. Statewide, 2017 preliminary appraised valued for real estate are projected to increase by 5.90%.  In 2016, there was a 4.84% increase.  Another set of statistics described an annual 14.5% increase in ag land values.

Commissioners met from 8:00 – 9:00 AM for the Building Authority and the County Commission met separately until 10:20 AM.  Chairman Monte Shadwick was absent.