Motion fails for county to buy Florence motel

Commissioner Dan Holub’s motion for Marion County to buy the abandoned motel at Florence for the price of back taxes less penalties, perhaps about $27,000, died Monday at the Marion County Commission meeting for lack of a second.

Holub said he would have wanted the county to spend perhaps another $50,000 to renovate the property, perhaps even upgrading it as a tourist location with a liquor store at one end and access to attractions such as Marion County Lake.

The City of Florence told Holub earlier, he said, that it doesn’t have the resources to participate in such a project.

Commission Chairman Roger Fleming, explaining his lack of support for Holub’s proposal, said, “I don’t want the county getting saddled with something that it can’t get moved. I’m really scared for us to acquire the property.”

Fleming noted that the City of Hillsboro also has a motel that isn’t occupied, further making him unwilling for the county to get involved in renovating abandoned motels.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he supported Fleming’s viewpoint, adding, “I’d rather even build a spec building to create interest than spend that kind of money on the motel.”

Holub said he would continue investigating the matter to see if it could be made more acceptable to the other commissioners.

County Appraiser Cindy Magill said there may be other help available for the county working with a buyer of the motel, perhaps even a state economic development exemption from property taxes for 10 years.

Magill said better programming and computer use at the state and county levels may cause further problems for the City of Florence.

She said the city could be forced to pay property taxes with penalties for the past three years at a price of $400 per each property for the city park, which was acquired in 1921, and for the park bench area by the motel and across the street because historically the paperwork as tax-exempt public properties for the locations never was filed.

Magill said the situation isn’t unusual among Kansas communities—it’s just part of the state making discoveries with upgraded systems.

The commissioners said they would try to get the back-tax time reduced to one year and to help Florence as they could.

Along with the Florence problem, Magill said the state has discovered that for years perhaps half the aircraft owners in Marion County haven’t been paying the property tax owed on their airplanes.

She said airplane owners may be getting tax notices for 2012 requiring three years of taxes for their crafts, plus penalties for two of the years.

Fleming said he doesn’t see that the county has any option to help the airplane owners other than to refer them to the state court of tax appeals if they disagree.

Magill said that in some cases appeals may work because such things as emergency use of the aircraft or its inclusion in another business.

County Clerk Carol Maggard said that in conversation with Bond Counsel David Arteberry on the new jail, it was found that the county needs to set a bond issuance by Feb. 23 to pay itself back for $300,000 out of the general fund used to date on jail construction.

Holub reiterated that bonds first should be offered locally to enable local institutions to participate as much as possible—“keep the money at home where we can.”

The commissioners approved Road and Bridge Director Randy Crawford’s proposal to haul the City of Florence two loads of rock the city purchased with county trucks because the city is too small to have its own suitable trucks.

The commissioners agreed to provide gates, rock bridges to prevent washout one last time, and provide signage for abandonment of a mile of road at 310th and Chisholm where trash dumping and vandalism have been problems.

Larry Reddick of Ergon Asphalt accepted an invitation to provide a county seminar for road and bridge employees on rock and asphalt use for hard-surface roads.

Reddick noted that an asphalt overlay is 30 percent water, and needs 30 days of warm weather to properly cure after laying it.

That’s why the county should seek to have its asphalt laid by Aug. 31, and not go past the state’s own guideline date of Sept. 15, he said.

In announcing a pay raise for Correction Officer Lee Vogel, Sheriff Craft noted that by next June Vogel will be joined by probably two more jailers to allow time for their training in maintaining the county’s new jail population.

Transfer Station Director Rollin Schmidt and Environmental Health Director Tonya Richards discussed possibly ending a county commercial and demolition waste subsidization of land owners to encourage them to get rid of dilapidated buildings.

Schmidt said he felt that if somebody wanted to replace an old house with a new house, the cost of disposing of materials from the old one is small for such a person anyway, perhaps $500.

The commissioners approved Emergency Management Director Dan D’Albini proceeding with plans to install state required narrow band emergency radio, perhaps cooperating with cities in funding the probable million-dollar project.

Acting Communications Director Linda Klenda outlined a continuously increasing use of cell phones over land lines for public emergency 911 use with 3,758 calls (70 percent) from cell phones this year compared to 1,597 calls from land lines.

The commissioners approved a noxious weed bid of $6,807.60 from Ag Service of Hillsboro for 360 gallons of 2,4-D LV over a competitive bid of $8,010.00 from Markley Service of Marion.

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