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County Ponders Reclassifying Gravel Roads as Earth Roads

KSAL StaffMay 16, 2017

Road Superintendent Darren Fishel identified 21 possible roads that have been designated as “gravel roads” that might more appropriately be re-classified as “earth roads”.  This means that motor graders might go down the roads less frequently and the County would stop applying rock aggregate.  Fishel said R&B had received requests that additional aggregate be applied to some of these road segments that might be reclassified.

Fishel noted that in 2016, it cost the County on average $3,600 to maintain a mile of gravel road and $1,100 to maintain a mile of earth road.  For each identified segment of road, Fishel designated a “potential savings” in future “costs Saline County may incur should someone choose to build a home, a hay shed, or some other business in these locations”.

Commissioner Mike White said he owned property on one side of an identified gravel road that perhaps could be reclassified as an earth road.  He said he’d learned last week, from the Planning and Zoning Director, that he potentially could split that property into three housing lots.  White presumed that whether the road was gravel or earthen could impact the value of any possible lots.  When White asked if the land owner might have to pay to upgrade a reclassified earth roads back to a gravel road, Fished responded “probably yes”.  Fishel said that is a case of “something that has value, that one can’t easily place a value” upon.  Fishel added that such a change might not be popular.

Fishel said that expectations for road maintenance often increase when someone builds a home.  Fishel spoke to County Appraiser Sean Robertson and learned that for every home appraised at $200,000 in a rural setting, “each home owner pays $225 for road maintenance each year”.

Commissioner Jim Weese noted that “we’ll have unhappy people” if they “don’t know this” might occur prior to an actual Commission vote.  Discussions turned to notifying nearby property owners.  There was widespread agreement among Commissioners that before they take any action, they wish to have a well-publicized public hearing.  Before further discussions take place, Chairman Monte Shadwick asked each Commissioner to drive the identified roads that are in each of their commission districts.

Other options, besides reclassifying roads, include:

  • Taking a look at minimum maintenance standards.
  • Grandfathering in reclassified roads into some kind agreement.
  • Not reclassifying these gravel roads as earth roads.

A list of the 21 “gravel designated roads” that have the potential to be reclassified as earth roads, as well as aerial shots, can be found on, under Commissioner’s agenda for May 16.

R&B Bid Awards

Unanimously, Commissioners awarded the following projects:

  • Reinforced concrete box and a rigid frame box drainage conveyance structure on Burma Road (0.2 miles north of Crawford Street) to Reece Construction for $102,114.61. A second project on Country Club Road (100 feet east of Gypsum Valley Road) was awarded to L&M Contractors for $164,890.25.
  • Reinforced concrete box drainage conveyance structures at Magnolia Road (0.4 miles w of Hedville Road), Donmyer Road (0.3 miles south of Cloud Street), and Old 40 Highway (0.4 miles southwest of North Street) were awarded to low-bidder Reece Construction.
  • Reinforced concrete box drainage conveyance structures on Muir Road (0.3 miles south of Falun Road) and Sungren Road (0.1 miles west of Muir Road) were awarded to low-bidder King Construction.

Capitol, Technology and Equipment Improvement Plans

In response to Commissioner’s request to see five and ten year capitol, technology and equipment improvement plans, County Administrator Rita Deister presented Commissioners with information assembled by department heads last week.

Deister also supplied Commissioners with a historical revenue and spending information as well as more recent information of departmental budgets and actual spending.  Shadwick said the ½” stack of papers was “very helpful”.  Vidricksen referred to the paperwork as being the “meat and potatoes” he’d been seeking.  Deister offered to supply them with additional charts and reports on matters of interest.

Re-Appointing the County Appraiser

Deister has been advising Commissioners that the appointment for the County Appraiser is up in July.  Today, she asked specifically if Commissioners wanted her to prepare a resolution to re-appoint Appraiser Sean Robertson.  Vidricksen said he’d like to hear public input before making that decision.  An announcement of how the public could provide input will be made at an upcoming meeting

In other matters, Commissioners:

  • Heard citizen Joan Ratzlaff say she values ACCESS coverage of the Public Forums and she noticed that there have been weeks when Public Forums have not been held. She also read Commissioners an e-mail she’d sent them back in January, asking that they re-instate the additional mil to help fund salary increases for County employees.
  • Approved a request from Sheriff Roger Soldan to set up contracts to house inmates in Chase County’s jail at $38/day and at Butler County’s jail for $35/day.
  • Authorized Soldan to purchase a replacement vehicle for one that was severely damaged two weeks ago, pending an insurance adjuster “totaling” the vehicle. He was authorized to spend up to $26,995 from the contingency fund, less any insurance payment and less any money remaining from the amount authorized for vehicle replacement in 2017.
  • Received an updated “election year” budget request from County Clerk Jamie Doss Allen. She has requested additional money, so as not to set herself for failure “of going over budget”.  Deister questioned how much of the previous Clerk’s advertising had been required v “nice to know”.  Allen said the County’s soon to be revamped website, as well as Facebook and Twitter, could help her office disseminate information at a lower cost.
  • Received annual reports from townships and cemetery boards.
  • Authorized IT Director Brad Bowers to gather additional information on possible needs of staff to carry Smart Phones and to get bids on possible costs. Bowers said that some law enforcement staff have said that having Smart Phone capabilities in the early stages of the Heimer murder investigation would have been helpful.
  • Heard a request from Karen Borcherding, District Manager of the Saline County Conservation District. She requested $21,000 from the County, which received $19,789 from the County in 2017.  She is the district’s sole employee.  The State “matches” most of the County’s contribution; they also receive money from grass seed sales, drill rentals, and contributions.  The SCCD’s annual operating budget is $47,000.
  • Were invited to sit in on two architectural presentations from firms who responded to invitations for proposals to remodel/update the Road and Bridge shop offices. Commissioners Jim Weese and Rodger Sparks will attend next Tuesday’s presentations.
  • Received a brief update on the “tax lid”.
  • Confirmed plans to meet with City Commissioners on June 12th, at 1:00 to tour the EXPO Center.

Commissioners planned to meet in two executive sessions.]

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