County buys transfer station for $825,000

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The Marion County Commission signed a letter of intent with KC Development, Inc., last Thursday, to pay $825,000 for its solid waste transfer station in Marion and all past and future fees owed by the county for transfer station services.

The transaction, announced Monday at the Marion County Commission’s payday meeting, is expected to result in a county-wide tax next year.

The purchase is expected to close Aug. 1 or soon after. Commissioners said organization of county depart- ments and employees to run the station have yet to be worked out.

In a letter to all Marion County cities signed by Commission Chairman Bob Hein with copies to Commissioners Leroy Wetta and Howard Collett, the commissioners said, “We realize that taking this step is an action which is favored by some, but perhaps not all, of the cities.

“As you are aware, the future of solid waste management in Marion County has been a much debated subject over the years. This county board has thorougly examined all possible alternatives, and has chosen to purchase the transfer station because we believe it is the best alternative for the citizens of Marion County.

“We will be providing you with further details later regarding how transfer station solid waste services will be provided, and at what cost.”

The commissioners said charges will stay the same the last quarter of 2002 with disposal fees for cities the same as charged by KC.

They said, “It is also our intent to replace the current disposal fee and billing system with a county-wide solid waste assessment fee that would take effect Jan. 1, 2003.

“This fee, which would finance both the operational expenses of the transfer station and the retirement of debt incurred as a result of this purchase, would be imposed upon all properties in the county.

“Different categories of property (residential, commercial, etc.) would be assessed fees at different rates as authorized by the Kansas Solid Waste Act.”

KC owners Rex Savage and Theo Bond noted in a written release that the signing of the agreement “came after almost a year of negotiations between the parties, and appears to resolvbe the growing crisis regarding the status of solid waste disposal in the county.

“The County Commission is to be commended for acting to permanently resolve this isse in the best interests of the citizens, taxpayers and waste generators of the county.”

The owners said KC received higher offers for the transfer station, but deemed this offer the best because “it keeps the facility under local control.”

No statement was made regarding the sources of other offers.

The commissioners said in the letter to cities, “We hope we have your support as we move forward in this new venture.”

Commissioners have attempted to resolve differing needs of cities, and it seemed to be generally hoped that making the transfer station a public utility might help.

Other issues

In other matters, the commission announced that Hein was elected president of the North Central Kansas County Highway Officials Assoication, which represents 17 counties. The election occurred at the association’s annual meeting March 28 in Concordia. Hein succeeds Doyle Alcorn of Jewell County.

County Clerk Carol Maggard announced that county sales tax collections are $5,719.40 ahead of the amount collected the same time in 2001. The taxes collected for March totaled $39,579.37.

The totals for January and February were $34,571.66 and $44,832.97, respectively.

The commissioners noted the collections may be evidence of a reviving economy.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to provide an additional $5,000 to the four-county regional solid waste authority to pay for completion of the five-year regional update.

David Brazil, county sanitarian and zoning director, said in presenting the request that Marion, McPherson, Harvey and Dickinson counties each had already contributed $17,500 for the plan, but the authority needed the additional amount from each county.

Brazil said much of the planning process is paid for by grant money administered by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The commissioners considered reinstituting the county-wide burning ban because of dry weather conditions, but decided not to.

Collett said with springtime cleanup and pasture-burning season arriving, “hopefully people will be responsible in knowing how and when to burn, and exercise the skills to do it.”

Hein said he had received one report of a fire getting too close to a house at Goessel, but noted that normal liability laws are in place if somebody gets too careless with fire.

He and Wetta said they were reluctant to be involved with a burn ban again at a time of year when spring rain might be hoped for.

The commissioners approved 3-0 a request from Dale Snelling, park director, to purchase a 1985 Chevrolet pickup truck for $2,800 for use by workers around Marion County Lake.

The commissioners split area fuel bids to take advantage of separate low bids awarding 2,950 gallons of diesel in areas one and two for $2,312.30 to Cardie Oil and 3,600 gallons of diesel in areas three and four for $2,844.00 to Cooperative Grain & Supply.

The payday total for the county was $576,664.41.

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