County commissioners review fees effect on recycling

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Recycling of wastes came back under discussion Monday at the Marion County Commission meeting with negotiations with the City of Hillsboro and unfairness issues with the City of Peabody coming to the forefront.

David Brazil, planning and zoning, environmental health and transfer station director, said he is negotiating with the City of Hillsboro on the price of disposing construction and demolition waste through the transfer station, now at about $40 a ton, to help encourage the city’s recycling efforts.

In answer to questions from commissioners on why C&D waste has been chosen for the negotiation when most recycled materials such as papers, plastics, metals and glass are municipal solid waste, Brazil said C&D was chosen instead of MSW as a starting point to give the city a break.

Commissioner Dan Holub, noting that Hillsboro and Peabody are the only communities in the county that still have recycling programs, suggested that some kind of tie to MSW fees is needed to keep the programs going.

Holub said, “Peabody takes a double whammy,” paying both the MSW and recycling fees.

Commissioner Randy Dallke, who was mayor of Peabody before becoming a commissioner, said it is difficult to get more than 60 percent compliance on the curbside recycling program the city has when residents must also pay the county MSW assessment.

Holub noted that higher compliance rates might require a mandatory program like the one in Harvey County where residents may receive fines for mixing recyclables with regular waste.

Brazil said recyclable materials usually will pay the cost for their own shipping when sold, but government entities or private haulers must charge customers for the costs of labor and equipment.

Brazil is in the process of reworking assessment guidelines for 2006, with very little change expected.

He said one change will be in allowing public entities classed as businesses that make infrequent use of trash disposal lower rates reflective of actual use. Examples of such businesses would be senior centers and fire departments in the county.

The commissioners approved setting an appeals deadline on the solid waste assessment of Dec. 20.

Brazil said masonry work being done at the transfer station should be finished by Friday if it doesn’t rain. He suggested resealing work next.

Commission Chairman Bob Hein asked him to investigate roof repairs next after Dallke pointed out that the deteriorated roof is “a serious problem.”

Brazil said station workers have been pumping excess water from the trailer pit.

Brazil commended road and bridge workers for their help in gathering soil samples for testing last week at the old landfill southwest of Marion.

The commissioners approved zoning conditional-use permits for wireless communications equipment in the northwest part of 32-19-2 and a dog breeding kennel in the east half, southwest quarter of 7-19-1.

County Clerk Carol Maggard said she has been preparing a spreadsheet on how the county’s $189,961.53 refund from Blue Cross Blue Shield for good claim history will be reimbursed on payday next week.

She expected $24,695 to be refunded to employees and $1,799.33 to be refunded by retirees who still take health insurance through the county. The balance of the money will go back into county funds.

Maggard will go to Junction
City this week to look at handicapped-access polling equipment for county elections. She said the county will receive federal funding to purchase the equipment as it is now required to have by the state.

The equipment also must be available for use by non-handi-capped voters, she said.

Michele Abbott-Becker, director of communications and emergency management, said installers from Texas, Missouri and Canada are here this week getting 911 equipment on-line that can locate a cellular phone caller. The first test will be June 29.

Her most recent tabulations show that 911 calls from cellular phones continue to outnumber those made from land lines accounting for nearly 70 percent of calls.

The commissioners approved Abbott-Becker proceeding with purchase from Great Plains Computers of a back-up system for power interruptions.

Chuck McLinden, president, and John Reznicek, secretary of the Marion County Fair, presented the fair budget, and received Commission approval for continued county funding at the same level as last year.

Reznicek reported the fair had $51,529.84 in income last year, and expenditures of $60,978.19.

Some of the larger non-routine expenses were for improvements for livestock judging and handling, he said.

Reznicek said county funding made up the deficit so the fair board ended with a $3,612.13 gain.

Maggard said county contributions included $10,000 from sales tax, $4,707 from budget plus a contribution of $2,982 for lease-purchase of fair bleachers.

The commissioners approved a bid of $83,650 from Kraus Welding of Hillsboro on two bridges, a 50-foot located three miles south of Florence and 1 1/4 miles west of U.S. Highway 77 on 80th Road, and a 60-foot one four miles west of Marion on 190th, then one mile south on Old Mill and a quarter-mile west on 180th.

The commissioners authorized Jim Herzet, acting road and bridge director, to check replacement costs and possible leasing of at least one new dirt-and-gravel truck to begin replacement of an aging, high-mileage fleet.

Among candidates for replacement, Herzet said, are a 1992 and a 1994 Ford, with the 1992 being the better of the two to keep. He recommended keeping some 1980s trucks as back-ups because they are in too poor of a shape to sell.

Holub said he would rather begin on replacing trucks on a regular basis than leave it as a problem for future county commissioners.

Dallke said replacement costs for trucks needs to be budgeted in annually, perhaps at a rate of $8,000 to $15,000 a year per truck.

Holub said he has been getting calls of appreciation for road and bridge crew members working overtime on weekends to repair wash-outs on minimum maintenance roads in time for wheat harvest.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to sign a standard representational audit letter with Swindoll, Jantzen, Hawkins and Loyd, auditing contractors.

Hein was named Kansas Association of Counties voting delegate to name a new KAC board.

A request from Harvey County requesting Marion County to join in declaring the “Newton Service Area,” which does include this county, as an under-served area in a letter to the governor was tabled pending more information.

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