Commissioners hoping state will extend jail deadline

County Attorney Susan Robson?s call Monday to a section chief with the State Fire Marshall?s Office could result in an extension for county action to comply with a directive for jail safety.

That possibility apparently enabled the Marion County Commission to proceed Monday with passing the 2011 budget on time.

Budget Consultant Scot Loyd worked with the commissioners much of the day to finalize the $6.98 million budget with a 1.127 mill increase based on a $107 million valuation.

Loyd said this compared with a 2010 budget of $6.564 million based on a $102.4 million valuation.

Loyd and the commissioners noted that there were funds being reimbursed to patrons participating in the county?s Neighborhood Revitalization Program.

But as Commissioner Dan Holub pointed out, there was a corresponding increase in the valuation of the properties because of the revitalization effort that wouldn?t have been completed without the program.

The commissioners began the morning talking of extending the completion of the budget for a week because they didn?t know what expenses they might incur as the result of SFMO actions.

After an inspection of the jail last week, an SFMO inspector notified Sheriff Rob Craft that by fire-safety standards the jail could only house one prisoner per 120 square feet rather than the commonly accepted state standard of 55 square feet.

The commissioners were concerned that requirements for transporting prisoners to other facilities and improving jail housing could require hundreds of thousands of dollars in county funds. They discussed potential reserve funds the county could tap to cover the expense.

Holub said he feared it could become like the Health Depart?ment building, where the county could be required ?to pour money into something that won?t work for the future.?

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke told Robson that rather than a 90-day waiver from SFMO, he wanted an extension until the first of the year. Robson said that?s what she would seek.

Robson said the SFMO chief said actions such as installing a new sprinkler system, or hiring an architect to arrange the jail into a safer pattern, could allow the county to continue to house more prisoners even if some have to be transported.

?We have to acknowledge that we see that we have a problem, and be looking at ways to resolve it,? Robson said.

Salute to Hein

At the end of the meeting, Holub used the examples of a book, ?Profiles in Courage? by former President John F. Kennedy, to describe, and commend how he feels about the courage of Commissioner Bob Hein?s performance in office.

Holub said that Hein, who was defeated for his seat by Roger Fleming in the Aug. 3 primary election, has always showed the kind of courage in holding ground on what was best for the county instead of ?taking the easy way out? to oppose something because it wasn?t popular with his constituency.

Holub said that in supporting a casino for Marion County and a new community corrections center, Hein had shown a perseverance under more abuse than either he or Dallke had been required to face.

EMS report

Emergency Medical Services Director Steve Smith said the county is both benefiting, and suffering from the economy when it comes to having volunteer EMTs. He said some volunteers are willing to work more hours because they can?t find employment, while other volunteers are lost when they are forced to move on because of jobs.

The department has gained eight new EMTs from this year?s training class, Smith said, including Nathan Amstutz as an EMT-B at Goessel, Melissa Arndt, Kathleen and Kai Magathan with Hillsboro, John?athan Nesser Cindy Ragland and Jackie Miller with Marion, and Melissa Kaiser with Lincoln?ville.

Smith reported 84 ambulance calls for July?12 from Peabody, 12 from Florence, one backup, 32 from Marion, 25 from Hillsboro, and two from Tampa.

The call included 10 transfers, two cardiac, 27 medical emergency, 10 standby, five motor vehicle accidents, five falls and 25 no transports.

There were six first-response runs: one from Florence, four from Lincolnville and one from Peabody.

The numbers brought total ambulance runs to 612, Smith said, which is more than half-way to meeting last year?s total of 1,102 runs.

The commissioners approved Park and Lake Superintendent Steve Hudson removing a boat dock or boat at owner?s expense at Marion County Lake if the owner persists in allowing persons swimming without safety jackets.

In making the decision, they noted that liability to the county in case of a drowning is too great to allow such behavior to continue.

Cardie Oil of Tampa was approved for a $19,658 road-and-bridge transport fuel bid for 4,000 gallons of clear diesel, 2,000 gallons of dyed diesel, and 2,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline. Cooperative Grain, based in Hillsboro, submitted a competitive bid of $19,900.

Rollin Schmidt, director of the county transfer station, reported 608.24 tons of municipal solid waste, 206.77 tons of construction-and-demolition waste, and 0.26 tons of tires disposed in July.

The solid waste was disposed of in 40 hauls to Butler County Landfill at an average cost per ton of $37.11 for fuel, driver and tipping fees.

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