Philip Barnes of Kansas State University said at Monday’s Marion County Commission meeting that he will continue with his research to help slow fertilizer pollution and blue-green algae growth in Marion Reservoir despite the commissioners’ problem in finding a way to pay him for 2012 work because of budgeting rules.
Randy Dallke, commission chairman, said somehow over several years of funding the Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy program, under which Barnes coordinates his work, the commission’s budgeting process got off-track.
Dallke said the program is being paid out of the following year’s budget when it hadn’t been budgeted. The county’s budget consultants have informed the commission that this can’t be done, he said.
Commissioner Dan Holub said, “We need to know where we got a year behind before we go further.”
Commissioner Roger Fleming said, “We asked for services (at both the reservoir and Marion County Lake, where Barnes also did work), so we need to pay for them. We just don’t know how we are going to do it right now.”
The commissioners had also stated in a letter to Barnes and WRAPS coordinator Peggy Blackman that they want any contribution they make from the county to go as much as possible to improving agricultural conservation practices around Marion Reservoir to slow pollution here.
They said they didn’t want the money to go into the total Neosho River basin program of which Marion Reservoir and the Cottonwood River are parts.
Blackman said that Marion County’s contributions over the years total about $200,000, and have helped WRAPS secure matching federal and state funds of about $2 million.
The funds have enabled construction of agricultural conservation projects above the reservoir that have slowed new nutrient pollution to nearly nothing above acceptable levels, she said.
Blackman and Barnes said the main pollution problem in the reservoir water is a heavy phosphorus residue accumulated over 30 years that feeds an annual algae bloom.
Barnes said research seems to be evolving to a solution of using solar-powered water aerators to break up algae, coupled with gypsum treatments to control phosphorus.
Holub suggested locating solar-powered aerators as soon as possible near water intakes from the reservoir to furnish Marion and Hillsboro.
Blackman said she appreciated the commission “stepping up when it did” to help a program at Marion Reservoir that has put this area ahead of most other reservoirs in pollution control.
She offered several pages material that showed such things as 104.82 miles of terraces above Marion Reservoir built from 2003 to 2012 using WRAPS funds the county helped generate.
The commissioners approved a letter urging the U.S. Congress to take care of budget considerations, with the addition of a draft by Holub that said both the U.S. president and members of Congress should be required to go without pay until a budget is passed if they fail to pass an annual budget on time.
Dallke said he doesn’t necessarily know the laws governing Congress on the subject, but he agreed with the sentiment.
Holub said if the commissioners can pass a county budget, the federal government should be expected to do as much.
The commissioners approved a fishing derby at Marion County Lake that will run from June 1 to May 31 annually with entry fee of $3 per species or $10 for all on crappie, largemouth bass, catfish and bluegill tagged for the contest by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. Prize money of 70 percent of fees collected will be paid out with 30 percent going for enhancement of the lake.
The commissioners also met Tuesday, April 30, in a $728,507 payday meeting.
County Clerk Tina Spencer reported regular monthly county sales tax received from the state for February sales of $48,877 and of special jail sales tax of $41,223.
The commissioners approved a road and bridge area fuel bid of $16,330.70 from Cooperative Grain & Supply of Hillsboro for 5,300 gallons of diesel over a competitive bid of $16,336.50 from Cardie Oil Inc. of Tampa.
They approved a road and bridge transfer fuel bid of $25,305.50 from CG&S for 5,500 gallons of diesel and 2,500 gallons of gasoline over a competitive bid of $25.391.50 from Cardie Oil.