The Marion County Commission agreed Monday to propose plans to the city of Marion for replacing the county zoning application for an emergency transmission tower at the new jail.
The change would reduce the height of the tower from 92 feet to 45 feet. The shorter tower would beam the signal to a radio tower west of town for long-distance transmissions.
The commissioners then would expect to make a final decision on the proposal at the payday meeting scheduled for Friday after the city has had time to consider the revised application.
Sheriff Robert Craft, who came up with the idea, said the shorter tower could accomplish the county’s emergency transmission needs for such things as ambulance service by consolidating multiple channels into only one channel that could be beamed to a tower west of town.
Craft said the new system would cost the county about $4,000 more than previous proposals, but it still falls well within the jail budget.
Commissioner Randy Dallke said the most important consideration is that the county’s 12,000-plus people expect credible emergency service, “and we need to get it up there to serve them.”
The commissioners said they also will ask the contractor to provide a 30-day guarantee on transmissions to make sure the system works reliably.
The commissioners approved a request by Appraiser Cindy Magill to provide a standard pay raise for the increased responsibility for employee Amber Hancock. They also used the situation to put a temporary freeze on all pay raises not yet proposed in order to develop new guidelines that would better fit budgetary concerns.
Commissioner Roger Fleming said the purpose of the freeze has nothing to do with the performance of any employee, but to come up with a better system.
The commissioners agreed to decide Friday whether to commit to final payments for the purchase of two caterpillar road graders. The two graders were provided by Foley Equipment Co. of Wichita originally under a five-year plan.
Company representative Jeff Bender said the graders actually were replaced at no charge after one year to fit in with Foley planning. As a result, Marion County has 4-year-old machines credited for five years of what should be a 20-year lifespan.
Bender said Foley would consider trading in the older machines as a practical measure in planning.
Dallke said he would like to see budget planning changed to not being used up every year to allow a surplus for such purchases.
Bender said one grader has a still-owed value of $150,000 with the county having $53,200 equity; the other grader’s still-owed value is $142,000 with the county’s equity at $69,040.
The commissioners agreed to have contractors rebid roofing the courthouse to account for new considerations for historical preservation identified by consultant Greg Leslie.
Commission Chair Dan Holub said commissioners will continue to work with the same two contractors who made the original bid with more specifications made “so we are comparing apples to apples.”
The commissioners confirmed their counterparts in Dickinson County, as of Monday, had not committed to plans for cooperating on ambulance calls.
The commissioners met in multiple executive sessions for personnel, and in one 15-minute session for property acquisition.