Unpredictable Repairs at Jail Force Budget Changes

Undersheriff Brent Melander appeared before the County Commissioners and told them of a catastrophic failure of the jail’s intercom system.  Suppliers are searching for a part to the “Stenaphone 9400” machine, which is no longer being made.  As a result, corrections officers make more frequent walk-bys of the 150 intercom stations (often located in/near cells).

In a preliminary estimate, Melander was told the jail may need to replace the intercom, at a cost of $250,000-300,000.  Commissioner Rodger Sparks asked about the possibility of Wi-Fi, as opposed to having to replace wiring.  Commissioners asked that IT Director Brad Bowers offer assistance.

County Administrator Rita Deister said the possible cost of replacing the intercom system would require capital improvement budget funds appropriated for this and next year.  Until more details could be confirmed, she suggested that budget considerations might prompt the Commission to delay signing a contract for upgrading the parking lot.  Chairman Monte Shadwick noted that the Commission wants the upgraded parking lot to happen, but doesn’t know at this time if it can afford to do all the work at once, as voted on at last week’s meeting.  Commissioners unanimously agreed to delay signing a contract regarding the parking lot, until more details are known.

Commissioner Robert Vidricksen said that for 10 months, the Commission has resisted discussing issues related to jail repairs or possibly building a new facility.  Commission Jim Weese agreed with Vidricksen and said the Commission “can’t keep their head in the sand” on jail related issues and said “we need to design a way forward”.  Deister said she’d spoken with Sheriff Roger Soldan and said he is agreeable to doing a study session on the state of the jail.  Responding to a question, Deister said that statutes stipulate the County must provide the facility for jailing individuals, even though they may be arrested by the City’s police force.

Community Corrections Relocating

Community Corrections will be moving.  Their new space adjoins Ace Hardware, at 321 S Broadway.  They will be renting 11,322 square feet (about half of the available space) and will pay $11,325/month (at an annual rate of $10/square foot).  The lease was up at their present location at 227 N Santa Fe and the department has grown.  County Commissioners unanimously agreed to sign the new lease with Salina Building Company.  Some remodeling work will be completed before Community Corrections moves in.

Flood Plain Update

Planning and Zoning Director David Neal received word that the County will have to meet an April 18th deadline for ratifying updates to the flood plain.  Neal outlined a timetable to Commissioners; he already has draft changes to the local code before State officials.  He anticipates that the Planning and Zoning Commission will hold public hearing on adopting FEMA mandated changes, likely in February and March.  The County Commission will then have to approve these changes by April 18.

Neal urges all property owners to come to his office and to individually see what the new changes mean to them.  Those who have received exemptions that allow them to live in housing on a “high spot” of ground will need to get those letters updated.  If not, and they have mortgages, their banks may require them to get flood insurance.

Neal said that laser technologies were used by State engineers as they remapped the flood plains.  Gone are the 1 to 10 feet measuring lee ways; new technology is able to measure within a foot.  Neal said that as the City has developed, and has blacktopped acreage, drainage may have changed, and that impacts what properties fall within the flood plains.

Registrar and Human Resources Update

Registrar of Deeds, Rebecca Seeman provided Commissioners with updates on State mandated changes on the fees her department charges.  An effort to create “predictable recording fees” for real estate is impacting other fees charged.  Seeman said her office collected $44,000 less in fees for 2017 year to date than in 2014.

Seeman said her office has processed 217 passport applications this quarter.

Deister and Human Resources Director Marilyn Leamer are still finalizing a draft of a new purchasing policy, whereby department heads will have to submit information related to obtaining three verbal bids for purchases of $3,001 to 10,000.  Deister said they plan to be able to do this electronically, so department heads can know that their purchasing decisions are in order within minutes.

There was no Open Forum segment of the meeting.  Next week, Tim Rogers with the Salina Airport Authority will appear before the Commission and provide an update on potentially new providers and services.


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