Consultant recommends roadway management program

With a maintenance backlog of 32 miles projected to carry over to next year, it?s no surprise that roads and bridges rank as the No. 1 critical concern for Marion County, a consultant told the county commission Monday at its regular meeting.

Based on research and information gathered, Tom Brown of Savant Service in McPherson made a series of recommendations for the county?s strategic plan, due to the state by the end of September.

Some input had come from county residents at six town meetings, although according to Commissioner Dan Holub, only a total of 22 people attended countywide.

High on Brown?s list of recommendations is including a comprehensive roadway management program in the county?s strategic plan.

?Most critical is maintaining the culverts and ditches for water draining management,? said Brown.

With $5 million a year allocated for upkeep of its roads and bridges, the county will have to make plans to work within those constraints, he said.

Brown recommended implementing a regular training program for employees and performance assessment for its goals as well as ?taking a hard look? at realigning the county into 12 maintenance districts instead of 14.

?We need to make what we have work better,? he said the county?s workforce and its 12 graders.

?I think we can have the best county maintenance system and should keep it.?

With the increasing costs for maintaining paved roads, Brown also recommended examining surfacing classifications of county roads.

?I think you have too many paved roads, looking to the future,? said Brown, adding that the county needs to prioritize which roads should be paved.

That may be politically unpopular, he said, but in the long run it will have an economic impact.

?Wouldn?t (county residents) rather (drive on) a better graveled road than a poorly paved road?? Brown said.

Brown told commissioners that water quality?in particular the county?s assets of Marion Reservoir and Marion County Lake?needs to be protected.

He also advocated for cooperation and support among communities in promoting their economic development.

?We?ve got to break down the competiveness (between towns) in the county,? he said. ?We need to build on collaboration with different groups.?

Brown said he plans to consult with county personnel about goals regarding healthcare, economic development and technology that can be included in the plan.

The commissioners agreed to omit issues related to the jail until after the November election. Brown will present a draft of the strategic plan to commissioners at next week?s meeting.

In other business, the commissioners:

n discussed ways to inform county residents about the issues in the upcoming jail.

?We need it fresh in everyone?s mind,? Holub said, adding that people are looking at dollars, not all that?s involved.

n approved a letter, prepared by County Appraiser Cindy Magill, that informs a household that its 60th Street address needs to change so that a 911 dispatch can go to the appropriate location if called.

Telephone numbers are tied to addresses, said Marion County Emergency Manage?ment Director Michelle Abbott-Becker.

n heard a report from Abbott-Becker about funding and equipment options for communication systems in the county, including the possible acquisition of a portable backup tower available through a grant.

She said Marion County would own the equipment and be responsible to insure, maintain and transport it, although funds for maintenance for the first five years would be built into the grant.

n heard from Rollin Schmidt, transfer station, noxious weed and household hazardous waste director, that his department is spraying for vine weed.

Schmidt and the commissioners also discussed the option for out-of-county trash disposal at the Salina landfill. The commissioners instructed Schmidt to find out about cost and contract terms.

n approved a resolution that prohibits the use of stickers on election ballots.

n approved a resolution from District No. 2 at Marion County Lake offering to furnish water for a wash station at no charge, along with running a sewer line from the drain to the grinder pump and hooking up both the water and sewer at no charge.

n discussed a resolution that would mandate boat inspections at the county lake and impose a fine on those who don?t get boats inspected. County Attorney Susan told commissioners they have authority under home rule to impose a fine that could not be greater than that of Class B misdemeanor?$1,000.

The commissioners will vote on the resolution next week after Steve Hudson, park and lake superintendent, has an opportunity to review it.

n met in executive session twice to discuss personnel, once with Magill. No decisions were made.

More from Hillsboro Free Press
Senior Scribbles (week of April 20)
hillsboro senior center Last week was National Volunteer Week. We hope everyone...
Read More