Commissioners consider forming public building commission

The Marion County Commis?sion Monday spoke by tele-conference with bond represen?t?atives, while examining papers the same consultants sent for creating a county public-building commission to build a jail.

Commissioners estimated the jail, or community corrections center, would be built after perhaps winning public approval to finance bonds in the general election of November 2008. Law Kingdon Inc. of Wichita is working on plans for a facility.

David Arteberry, bond consultant with George K. Baum & Co., told commissioners the outline papers they were looking at for a public-building commission are ?just an attempt to get the ball rolling.

?By passing a resolution to create this, you?re not locking yourselves into anything. There is no obligation to go on.?

Bond Attorney Jon Small said the format of a public-building commission would follow 50-year-old Kansas statutes created to allow one unit of government to create another unit for building something such as a jail or other public building.

He assured commissioners, in response to a question from Commission Chairman Randy Dallke, that the building commission could be left in place, when the jail either is completed or rejected, to consider other projects. Dallke said the commissioners might want it for considering how far flung county agencies are becoming; for example, the health department with a building downtown away from the courthouse.

Small recommended a seven-member building commission including at least one, and possibly all three county commissioners. Commissioner Bob Hein noted the building commission could have as few as three members or as many as nine.

Commissioner Dan Holub noted the building commission would be responsible for financing and building the jail, but final financing would be done by the county through payment of a lease backed through sales or property taxes.

Arteberry said there is some reluctance by bond purchasers on this type of arrangement because counties have been known to back out on arrangements, refuse to make lease payments or walk away from their own building commissions. The reluctance has been heightened, he said, by recent such actions from two counties in Oklahoma.

The commissioners took special note of high fuel prices in awarding a record transport fuel bid to Cardie Oil of Tampa at $20,678.00 over a competitive bid of $20,858.25 from Cooperative Grain & Supply of Hillsboro.

Hein said when he began office three terms ago, the commissioners could have purchased two transport fuel bids of the same size for the money instead of just one. It was the first time a county bid for gasoline has exceeded $3 although the diesel prices appeared to shock the commissiners, too.

Dallke said he wanted to make a public statement, ?that we let the people know that we will be looking at all county departments, whether it?s road and bridge or the sheriff?s office or something else, at vehicles and efficiency to find ways to save money.?

In response to her request, the commissioners named Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman non-voting chairman of the Marion County Economic Development Council.

County Clerk Carol Maggard said County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman would be going to the National Association of Coun?ties convention in Richmond, Va., this summer, and asked that the commissioners name her the county?s voting delegate. She said in past years Bateman?s trips to the convention in various places has been paid for by the state association or from the county?s special auto funds, of which Bateman is in charge.

Holub said he wanted Bateman on the agenda to talk about it first because even though the commissioners don?t control the expenditure, he still doesn?t think tax money should be spent in that way.

Bobbi Strait, planning and zoning and health director, told commissioners she is working on an incident where a trash pile on one farm washed downstream onto another one during recent storms. She reminded rural residents that if they have a trash pile on their land, they must cover it with dirt.

Strait said in another recent incident where it was found that a residential sewer pipe dumped directly into a ditch, the residents there are trying to get an easement on a neighbor?s land for a legal septic system.

Michele Abbott-Becker, communications and emergency management director, told commissioners she is having problems getting state-required disaster mitigation plans back from the county?s smaller towns with limited labor resources. Such cases require her to, in effect, act as a ?proxy? by completing their plans, she said.

Becker said if she didn?t do that, the communities could go without Federal Emergency Management Aid help if one of them suffered a disaster like the Greensburg tornado.

Abbott-Becker brought in the latest monthly statistics that show from 50 to 60 percent of 911 calls still are made from cell calls. Her office soon will receive a state audit of their wireless funds and equipment, she said.

Jayne Gottschalk, new elderly director, gave her monthly report accompanied by Noreen Weems, retiring elderly director. Gottschalk said departments in Marion and McPherson counties have met with the Kansas Department of Transportation to coordinate transportation needs. She said it was determined that only senior-citizen transportation needs will be served in the future without any general public transportation.

The commissioners approved a bid of $10,255.18 from Wichita Fencing over a bid of $10,553.26 from Pro Fencing of Newton for materials and installation of a six-foot chainlink fence around the transfer plant.

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