County concerned about impact of high gas prices on budget

The Marion County Commis?sion was only five minutes into a budget cycle discussion Monday when Commissioner Bob Hein brought up that it?s going to be ?hard to figure? fuel expenses in the foreseeable future, especially for the road and bridge department.

The Marion County Commis?sion was only five minutes into a budget cycle discussion Monday when Commissioner Bob Hein brought up that it?s going to be ?hard to figure? fuel expenses in the foreseeable future, especially for the road and bridge department.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke acknowledged that anything to do with oil for road and bridge?whether for road surfacing or fuel?where $10,000 was budgeted, the Commission could find itself requiring an additional $10,000 for the same road and bridge project within a year.

Commissioner Dan Holub said the commissioners will need to start ?thinking outside the box.? Where a county official might have automatically gone to a meeting in the past, he said they may be asked to do Internet education instead.

The commissioners studied limited orderly budget increases, and where money would come from if fuel prices forced a department over budget.

Hein said other government entities are cutting back. He said he?d heard that the Kansas Highway Patrol may face limitations on mileage and grounding of airplanes when gasoline hits $3.50 a gallon.

Hein said county department heads will have to be told months in advance where increase limits are so they can plan.

Holub said maybe a policy can be constituted to put 50,000 more miles on each county car before it can be traded in.

County Clerk Carol Maggard said there are counties that have found it more economical to give their employees more benefits instead of giving raises.

The commissioners discussed the idea that instead of only paying health insurance for employees, perhaps they also could pay family insurance instead of a routine pay increase.

Holub suggested they look at making this year?s budget the standard, and using a minimal standard limitation such as 3 percent for budget rises.

It was noted that Chase County officials are saying they lost several sections of roadway in last week?s flooding that will need to be rebuilt in order to use them.

Road and Bridge Director Jim Herzet said the only portion of road destroyed by high water in Marion County was a low water concrete bridge at 290th and Clover with a flow tube that was inadequate to receive the unusual flow.

Herzet said he will be responsible for monitoring the work of a young man who has volunteered as part of earning a Scout Eagle badge to build fence between the County Lake and pasture owned by Mick Somerville. Herzet said the county crew may set the corner posts needed.

Maggard reported the county cash on hand balance the end of April at $7,992, 332. This included a county general fund balance of $2,216,712 and a road and bridge balance of $1,130,358.74.

The motor vehicle expense fund operated by County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman was at $1,968 in expenditures.

Health Director Bobbi Strait reported she has received an anonymous complaint with photos that was first sent to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment concerning a sewer pipe running straight from a home on Alfalfa Road.

Strait said that is illegal, and a practice never allowed to be grandfathered in by the state. Legal rural sewage systems include such practices as having a lagoon or a septic tank system to hold and digest sewage waste, she said.

Strait must contact the owner of the home to insist on cleanup, and then report back to the state, she said. The state will direct her as to whether the ditch will require some kind of clean-up action, or be allowed to set until the waste there is abated naturally.

Strait also has been notified by KDHE that before any structure can be torn down, whether it be a farm shed or a house, it must have a certificate of inspection for asbestos. She found that the inspection can cost from $350 to $500.

To save county residents money, she is going to asbestos certification school June 19-20. She said she already is required to look at a home?s insulation and wiring before it is torn down, ?so I am already there.?

Strait said most homes being torn down or burned were built before use of asbestos began anyway.

Sheriff Lee Becker said he will give one of his officers a half-time assignment to Marion County Lake to increase law enforcement commitment there because of activities occurring especially on weekend nights.

He said he also assign jail inmates there to clean up the swimming beach.

The commissioners signed an agreement with a Quail Forever group operating through the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to maintain bird cover at the old Marion County Landfill.

Law Kingdon and Justice Concepts Inc. personnel discussed with commissioners what kind of a proposal for a new community corrections facility they may put together that would be acceptable to Marion County residents.

Allen Beck of Justice Concepts suggested, besides developing a realistic financial figure, that such things as providing therapy as well as incarceration for minimum risk convicts might help.

The Law Kingdon team also told Sheriff Becker that they would help him at an hourly rate in dealing with the State Fire Marshall?s Office on shortfalls in the jail until the situation could be modified.

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