Commission chooses not to charge for COVID-19 vaccination

Last week, the Marion County Commission met on Jan. 19 due to the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday.

A COVID-19 update was given by Diedre Serene of the health department. She expressed concerns about having enough vaccine for Phase 2 of vaccinations for critical and high-contact workers.

KDHE has tasked locals to tier that phase so that we can get vaccine out as fast as we receive it,” Serene said. “We may have to break that up into tiers. That’s what I am going to ask the commission for guidance; how would you like to see that tiered?”

She added she had concerns about the ability to vaccinate all residents 65 and older right away. She said while “it is not set in stone,” she is considering vaccinating residents 75 and older, then 65 to 74, then school personnel. She estimated about 300 for just school staff who would want the vaccine.

Appointments will be necessary for all vaccinations, and those receiving shots must be observed for at least 15 minutes. As more doses become available, Serene said additional help through clinics and volunteers will be needed to coordinate the vaccination effort.

There was discussion on whether or not to charge an administrative fee for the vaccinations.

The commission felt they “don’t want any deterrents” for residents receiving vaccinations. Serene said billing for the shots would add an additional step in collecting information and more time. The commission was adamant “shots in arms is the number one goal; we don’t want to get backed up.”

In other news:

There was further discussion on the Nighthawk Road project regarding engineering fees and consultation work as well as the final decision on whether to use asphalt or a double chip seal. Ultimately, the low bid for the project was awarded to the Utah-based bidder for $2,653,500.

There was a brief update from Planning and Zoning, reporting a dozen new builds in the county, several wastewater systems, accessory structures and a number of violations the department is working on resolving but awaiting legal counsel on some issues.

County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman reported all SPARKS money had been disbursed. She also requested a new cash counting machine that can detect counterfeit bills; two have been passed through the office. The purchase for $3,700 was approved.

The commission approved a request from the City of Marion for an exemption from the transient guest tax. The City of Hillsboro is already removed from the Marion County transient guest tax pool, and Marion requested similar removal. For more details, see related story.

There was discussion regarding the housing of the extension agent’s office. No action was taken and the issue will be reexamined in six months to a year after gathering financial data.

Further discussion was had on an ambulance facility for Marion County. The issue was resolved at the Monday, Jan. 25, meeting with the agreement to purchase property from the City of Hillsboro along Ash Street for the purpose of constructing a new building.

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