County mill value hits new high after state corrects pipeline assessment

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
County Clerk Carol Maggard told the Marion County Commission Monday that the county valuation used to calculate the tax levy increased by $966,933 since July to a new high of $99,619,045.

She noted this now increases the value of a mill to $99,619.

The biggest reason for this increase, she said, was a state assessment that showed pipelines belonging to Panhandle Eastern had been credited to the wrong counties.

With the correction, Marion County came out a winner with a big valuation jump, she said.

Maggard said the portion of the valuation rise due to personal property was $1,972,000.

Maggard said also that unpaid delinquent property taxes have now come out of the sheriff’s office to the district court for review. In three years, she said, they can be sold in a county delinquent tax sale.

McPherson County has replied to Marion County, Maggard said, that it will share gas monitoring equipment for use at gas wells at the old Marion County landfill southwest of Marion to save both counties money.

Cecil Askins, acting director of community corrections for the 8th Judicial Districts, invited commissioners and other Marion County personnel to attend a Kansas Court Security and Emergency Preparedness Project at the Geary County Courthouse Nov. 1.

Askins said Kansas is unique in that the Kansas Homeland Security Office will assess vulnerability at all court facilities in the state at no added charge to local governments.

The initial meeting from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. will be open to the public, but future meetings will be limited to officials for security reasons, he said.

Aska will meet with Judge Michael Powers and staff following the meeting to discuss the situation here.

In a related segment of the meeting, Dan Hall of BG Consultants in Manhattan, who presenting initial plans for a proposed community corrections center, said Powers didn’t approve initial security planning for a new courtroom in the facility.

Hall said Powers wanted to go through what Homeland Security has to offer before making final new courtroom plans.

Hall presented an architect’s initial drawing of a corrections center with ground floor sloping down to a partly underground floor.

Commission Chairman Dan Holub asked that the drawing not be released to the public yet because it would confuse people when a final plan is chosen.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said, “We need land with a slope.”

The sketch included a courtroom and court offices, sheriff’s offices, county attorney offices confinement areas, day rooms for prisoners, training rooms, a library, a classroom, storage, cold storage and laundry room among other things.

Sheriff Lee Becker noted the facility includes a “flex room” that could be used for temporary juvenile intake, but most likely juveniles still would have to be taken to Junction City for confinement.

Hall noted that on subjects like probable staff needed for the facility, the commissioners and he can only make “educated guesses” at this time. He said the correctional facility in Harvey County would be similar in design.

The commissioners approved a resolution to associate with Harvey County in forming a community development disability association. Dallke volunteered to be among Marion County representatives.

The new county economic secretary who begins Nov. 1 will be given information about starting from Tom Brown, county economic consultant with Savant Services of McPherson, and Susan Nickerson, west regional director for the Kansas Department of Commerce.

Nickerson told commissioners developments in her department since 2004 have brought about worker education and work force development for higher paying jobs and economic stability.

She said that through 24 work force centers in the state, workers can now receive training to work with specific companies or self-ventures, and businesses can seek grants.

Nickerson said the state even keeps an eye on company closings in other states to entice their employees here, or for companies considering closing to offer help with workers that will keep them going.

The closest centers for Marion County are at Salina, Newton and Hutchinson.

She said some of the jobs her office likes to be involved with include the biosciences, renewable energy, oil and gas, health care and telecommunications.

She said individuals have been helped with everything from learning to drive a forklift to better math skills.

Brown said Marion County might reach out to cooperate with neighboring counties such as Harvey, Saline and McPherson to share in grant money for training for specific industries.

Commissioner Bob Hein said the new economic secretary will have “gobs of information” through Nickerson to start with “when she comes on board.”

Nickerson said she will definitely consider the secretary Marion County’s “point person.”

Brown said he could also go into budget considerations with the commissioners to get the best from revenue limitations.

After going over a list of building permit applications with Bobbi Strait, director of planning and zoning and environmental health, the commissioners went into a 15-minute executive discussion for personnel with her.

It was announced afterward that they would be determining a job description and pay for an assistant for Strait.

The commissioners also met with Darryl Thiesen, Emergency Medical Services director, for 15 minutes in executive session with no announcement.

Holub as chairman signed an emergency plan that goes to the state from Rollin Schmidt, noxious weed, household hazardous waste and transfer station director, on handling spills in department facilities.

Schmidt said that his mobile unit has picked up close to 6,500 pounds of waste from communities this year. He said he is especially happy to see acids and poisons removed from home situations.

Schmidt told commissioners the only ways he saw to increase waste picked up is to advertise and promote more. He noted that the pickups can also help lower the flow of waste through the transfer station, make it less toxic, and thus save money.

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