Commissioners continuing ?sharing? support staff to avoid layoffs

Citing a desire to avoid staff layoffs, the Marion County Board of Commissioners indicated at Monday?s payday meeting that two more of its departments will share support staff in the near future.

Without a formal vote, the three commissioners instructed Gayla Ratzlaff, coordinator for the Department on Aging, to arrange a schedule to share the full-time hours of office assistant Lanell Hett with Rollin Schmidt, director of the noxious weed office and the household hazardous waste facility.

Commission Chair Randy Dallke initially indicated the hours should be split 50-50 between the two departments, but commissioners allowed for a modified outcome if the logistics of scheduling demanded it.

Dallke said the commissioners have been reviewing staff needs in all county departments and had already established shared hours between four other offices within the courthouse.

This would be the first attempt to share time in geographically separate offices. The Department on Aging is located within the Marion Senior Center while Schmidt?s operations are based on the west end of town.

?We?re trying to tighten our belt a little so we don?t have to cut staff,? Dallke said. ?When it will be time to cut, it won?t be fun.?

Commissioner Dan Holub said he supported the job-sharing concept as long as it didn?t result in a reduction of services to senior citizens.

Lila Unruh, president of the Marion County Senior Citizens Board, attended the meeting with Ratzlaff. Unruh said she was there to ?beg? the commissions to keep Hett full-time with Aging.

?It makes sense to me that she?s there all day,? Unruh said. ?She knows what to do and she does a good job.?

Ratzlaff said her primary concern was for office coverage on days when she would be out on county business. The irregular schedule of those trips would make it difficult to establish a set schedule for sharing hours.

Holub encouraged Ratzlaff to ?work something out? with Schmidt, even if it meant that some weeks the time allotment may be more like 70-30 than 50-50.

Through the end of this fiscal year, Hett?s salary will continue to be paid from Aging?s budget, and Hett will remain under Ratzlaff?s direct supervision.

Dallke said commissioners should have a better sense how the hours will be divided as the year progresses, and can assign the hours to each department accordingly in the next budget.

Dallke suggested that Ratzlaff and Schmidt report back to them within 60 days regarding their arrangement.

Pipeline contract

County Attorney Susan Robson said she is close to completing a contract with TransCanada-Keystone regarding covering damage to county roads during its anticipated pipeline project.

Among other things, Robson said she took the initiative to include a $2 million performance bond in the contract, as well as a stipulation that the company inform the county when it leases the pipeline to different companies.

?I?m not going to sign off (on the contract) until we know what every attachment says,? Robson said.

Other business

In other business, commissioners:

? accepted a bid of $39,966 from Truck Parts & Equipment Inc., Wichita, for the purchase of three snow-plow attachments for three county trucks. Two other Wichita companies submitted competing bids: Victor L. Phillips Co. bid $34,372 and Kansas Truck Equipment Co. bid $40,841.

? approved a motion to increase the annual compensation for road and bridge workers for electricity used at their homes to keep road-grader engines warm during the night in case of a snow response. The rate has been $100 for at least 10 years, according to commissioners; they it increased to $150 per year.

? split the monthly fuel bid between Cardie Oil Co. of Marion and Cooperative Grain & Supply of Hillsboro. Cardie Oil was selected for 4,284 gallons designated for areas 1 and 2 at $14,122, while CG&S won the bid for 3,600 gallons for area 3 and 4 at $14,230.

? heard County Clerk Carol Maggard report that cash on hand as of Dec. 31 was $16,484,313, and that the county had earned nearly $150,600 in interest during the year.

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