Former commissioner challenges proposal for county lake

Former Marion County Commissioner Leroy Wetta addressed the Marion County Commission during a payday meeting Wednesday, May 31, to express his opposition to the construction of privately owned rental cabins at Marion County Lake.

If the cabins are built anyway, Wetta said at the very least he would want the owners to be paying Marion County much higher prices than those being considered. He cited the high resale value for cabins at Council Grove City Lake.

Commissioners Roger Fleming and Randy Dallke voted 2-0, despite the protest, to proceed with obtaining a legal description for Area No. 10 at the lake in anticipation of possible construction of cabins. That area also includes the heated fishing dock.

Commissioner Dan Holub abstained from voting because his adult children are the project developers.

Dallke said other applicants have wanted to build cabins at the lake. Although Dallke doesn?t expect the Holubs to withdraw from the current project, he said he expects there could be other developers who would desire the same type of arrangement in the future.

The county needs to plan for the situation either way, he said.

?We have two or three more steps to go through before we consider approval,? Dallke said.

Added Fleming, ?Our whole intent is to improve the county lake.?

Holub said he doubted his children would make a lot of money with cabins being vacant between overnight stays.

?If they make any money at all, I?d be surprised,? he said.

Wetta said the 99-year lease being considered for the cabins is ?extremely long for wood-frame cabins, especially at a lake that is only a little over 70 years old itself. A 99-year lease is usually reserved for substantial, really long-term projects?say, the Panama Canal or Guantan?amo Bay Military Complex.?

Wetta suggested that if leases are considered, they should be for a much shorter time frame so they can be adjusted according to economic changes.

Wetta said the commissioners should consider that the proposed cabins would be doing more than creating part-time jobs and creating more local business activity.

He said, ?The economic impact would be much greater if the income from lot-lease sales was directed toward incentives to recruit new businesses or expand current ones. With proper conditions attached to the incentives, new jobs could be created in the county, and increased valuation could help the tax revenue.

?Let?s be proactive, and use the most important asset of the county to make a real difference.?

Wetta said a proposal for cabin owners to pay the county 2.1 percent of cabin rentals is too little.

He also said an agreement that would hold the county harmless for legal damage at the cabins is ?meaningless.?

?The only way to hold the county harmless is to require that the insurance is large enough to cover any possible negative legal outcome,? Wetta said. ?The liability insurance alone would need to be in the multi-millions.?

Other business

In other matters, County Clerk Carol Maggard announced the payday funds dispersement at just under $813,980.

She said sales tax received from the state in May for March collections was $52,952, which puts the county $7,081 ahead of the same time last year.

The commissioners decided to submit a request to the Kansas Attorney General?s Office concerning the legalities of allowing golf carts to be driven at the county lake by people who can?t walk distances because of disabilities.

The commissioners said they have received criticism from contractors for having county road and bridge personnel running county equipment to remove old houses from the new county jail site.

Not only could the contractors be earning money by doing the work, the county department needs to spend its time on roads.

Commissioners said the county is using its own employees to save money for the required jail bond, but will employ private contractors if too many time conflicts are created for the road and bridge crew.

Commissioners approved a road and bridge fuel bid of $21,319.85 from Cooperative Grain & Supply of Hillsboro for 6,550 gallons of diesel over a competitive bid of $21,438.10 from Cardie Oil Inc. of Tampa.

Diedre Serene, health department administrator, told commissioners her office is eligible to receive a computer kiosk for clients in the state?s Women, Infants and Children program to use.

The commissioners approved a competitive noxious weed department bid of $4,291 from Markley Service of Marion over bids of $4,709 from Ag Service at Hillsboro and of $5,133.90 from CG&S for 20 one-quart bottles and 10 one-gallons bottles of Milestone herbicide.

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