Commissioners hear both good and bad budget news

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Marion County commissioners generated some good news at their Dec. 27 meeting about the 2006 budget when they accepted an insurance-premium bid that was nearly $36,000 less than they had paid the previous year.

The commissioners heard proposals for property and general liability insurance from two sources: Kansas County Association Multi-line Pool and a trio of county-based carriers for Employers Mutual Casualty Co.

Commissioners chose EMC’s bid of $95,706 rather than the bid of $101,000 from KCAMP, which is a cooperative of 59 member counties in Kansas that focuses on the insurance related-needs of county governments.

Last year’s premium through EMC was $131,570.

Tom Job was on hand to present KCAMP’s proposal while Richard Nickel of the Insurance Center in Hillsboro, Casey Case of Case & Son Insurance Co. of Marion and John Balthrop of Avery Insurance Agency of Peabody presented EMC’s proposal.

Fuel-surcharge increase

Commissioners received some bad news about the budget when David Brazil, director of the county’s solid-waste transfer station, presented a contract addendum from Robinson Trucking, the contractor that hauls solid waste from the transfer station to the regional landfill near Topeka.

The addendum changes the basis of their fuel surcharge from a set formula-determined by how much higher the price of fuel is over $1.50 per gallon-to a percentage rate based on data from the Energy Information Administration, a division of the federal government.

The increase in the cost of diesel fuel over this past year could cost the county in the ballpark of $25,000 more to haul away the county’s trash in 2006, Brazil said.

“It’s not shooting the moon for an increase,” Brazil said. “I think you’ll see that per-loaded-mile rate jump up. No one sees $1.50 per gallon for diesel (in 2006).”

Brazil said 2006 is the third year of a three-year contract with Robinson Trucking, and the commissioners can renegotiate the contract next year.

“We’ve done well with their contract-in dollars and in service,” Brazil said, noting that a fuel surcharge is commonplace these days for trucking companies.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said the increased cost for trucking will make it difficult to fund the transfer station at the budgeted rate of $81 per person, but he understood the reason for the increase.

The discussion prompted Commissioner Dan Holub to lament the county’s decision to acquire the transfer station in the first place.

“This trash thing is driving me right up the wall,” Holub said. Particularly frustrating, he added, was that a private company was prepared to develop a landfill near Marion a few years ago that would have eliminated the need for the county to haul trash long distances.

“We’re getting in deeper and deeper,” he said.

After the commissioners approved the contract addendum, Holub asked Brazil to “put something together to show how we’re going to absorb this cost.”

Provisional ballots

Noting their consideration of them wouldn’t change the outcome, commissioners decided to not review the merits of the 34 provisional ballots that came in during the mail-in referendum about supporting a destination casino in Marion County.

“No” votes exceeded “yes” votes by 200.

A provisional ballot, in this case, was one where the residential address that appeared on the signed returned envelop did not match the residential address that appears with the voter’s name in official registration records.

County Clerk and Election Officer Carol Maggard said the county will receive credit from the post office for the postage on the return envelopes that were inside the 1,462 original ballot mailings that came back to the county because they were undeliverable.

Courthouse renovation

The commissioners took an initial look at four bids that came in for the renovation project in the courthouse basement. Because one bid came in that day, commissioners put off a decision until the bids could be compared for consistency.

The four companies submitting bids were CWC Inc. of Wichita, Jantz Construction Inc. of Tampa, Brunner Construction of Marion and Jeff Jirak Construction of Marion.

Other business

  • heard Holub agree to attend a Homeland Security conference sponsored by Kansas Association of Counties Jan. 19-21 in Wichita. The KAC had asked counties to send a commissioner if possible.

    “If they’re awarding funds on a regional basis now, it’s best not to be left our just because we’re on the small side,” Maggard said.

  • heard Maggard report that Michael R. Kruger of Mile City, Mont., has been hired as director of community corrections for the Eighth Judicial District, effective Jan. 1.
  • gave permission for County Appraiser Cindy Magill to encumber $2,500 for the purchase of new office equipment: a fax machine, a computer tower and three digital cameras.
  • approved a recommendation from Noreen Weems, director of the department for the elderly, to encumber $1,500 for folding chairs to be distributed between the senior centers in Tampa and Marion.
  • gave permission to Dale Snelling, Marion County Park & Lake superintendent, to incumber up to $10,000 for the purchase of a riding lawn mower and a pull-behind tractor mower. Snelling presented proposals from several local businesses, but was waiting for more information before a decision would be made.
  • approved a change order for $17,722 from the Kirkam Michael engineering firm that will add paving a road near Peabody as part of the overlay project for 2005.
  • signed a lease-purchase agreement for two new International Harvester Model 7600 dump trucks recently acquired for the road and bridge department. The agreement was made with Tampa State Bank following a request for bids from all banks in the county.
  • heard Dallke encourage Road and Bridge Superviser Jim Herzet to take advantage of the unusually warm weather to patch potholes in county hard-surface roads. Dallke said he was hearing complaints from patrons in the Peabody area about potholes on 60th and 40th streets.
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