Commissioners may make room in budget for technology upgrades

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Computer technology and capacity changes so fast that the Marion County Board of Commissioner noted Monday that it might have to create a new budget line item just to keep up.

The commissioners and department heads have said before that even if they wanted to keep the county’s computer system the same, they wouldn’t be able to because of changing state and federal requirements.

Lloyd Davies, the county’s consultant from Great Plains Computers in Marion, had been talking to the commission about the need for upgrading the county’s current network, which was installed in 2002.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said, “Just think of the money we have spent on it since then.” He perhaps was referring to the many times commissioners have approved purchases and upgrades of individual office systems.

Dallke said, “It looks like it is costing us an average of $10,000 a year. It looks like every five years we ought to have a major upgrade. I just don’t like to walk in, and spend $75,000 or more without a line item in the budget for it. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just technology change.”

Commissioner Bob Hein agreed a line item would be the smart thing to do.

County Clerk Carol Maggard said computer systems could be set into a county five-year plan like bridges are.

Lloyd verified that much of the courthouse system is operating during average times at 75 to 80 percent of its total capacity, and therefore may soon be obsolete.

Dallke said, “I’d like to have $45,000 setting there for it today.”

County water advisory board

The commission invited Peggy Blackman, representing the Marion County Conservation District, city administrators David Mayfield, Steve Garrett and Jeff Benbrook of Marion, Hillsboro and Peabody, respectively, Dan Crumrine of Marion County Lake and Strait to consider final wording of a resolution to create a County Surface Water/Reservoir Advisory Board.

The commission is expected to approve the resolution at its Thursday payday meeting.

The board would consist of a county commissioner serving as chair, plus representatives from City of Hillsboro, City of Peabody, City of Marion, Marion County Lake Improvement District No. 2, a Reservoir Lake Association member representing recreation interest, an irrigator and two members with agricultural interests.

Participants went over the need to present a unified political front to get Congressional funding for water improvements at Marion Reservoir.

Commission Chairman Dan Holub brought up differences expressed in a letter from Hillsboro Mayor Delores Dalke, and promised Garrett to go over them with her.

They said funding for projects here will be difficult to get when lakes like John Redmond, because of its association with Wolf Creek Nuclear Plant, and Cheney, because of its water share that goes to Wichita, are assigned higher priorities.

Other business

The commissioners approved a bid from Continental Analytical Services of Salina for initial monitoring of gas wells at the newly closed Marion County Landfill southwest of Marion for $8,952.

Bobbi Strait, director of planning, zoning and environmental health, noted that, along with two other bids, was below the engineering estimate of $12,500 for the service, which is required by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Planning Commission Chair Eileen Sieger announced the special meeting for zoning rules Thursday night will be open for public observation but not for public commentary unless requested.

The commissioners approved quarterly write-offs of $6,760 for ambulance service calls-mostly incurred because of Medicare approval limitations.

Darryl Thiesen, Emergency Medical Services director, said he will turn the bills over to a collection service that will have access to Social Security numbers. The service would keep 28 percent of what it collects from the predominantly elderly patients, he said.

Cecil Aska, 8th Judicial District Administrator, met with the commissioners for 15 minutes in executive session for personnel followed by an announcement from the commissioners that they favor termination of the community corrections officer. Aska said the officer is on administrative leave pending approval of his termination by all counties that belong to the 8th Judicial District.

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