County hears of first lower budget for ?10

Under the current economic situation, the Marion County Commission is trying to cut all department costs.

So, Monday the commissioners were happy to hear County Agricultural Extension Agent Rickey Roberts say his office has cut its budget 2.38 percent to $123,000 for 2010.

Roberts said the extension office managed this without cutting salaries.

?We?re kind of a bare bones type of office anyway?not a lot of equipment,? he said. ?I have a computer and a printer.?

Reservoir issues

Peggy Blackman, coordinator for the Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy that is working to prevent sedimentation of Marion Reservoir, said a new infestation of blue-green algae has reportedly begun along the dam.

She reported that in recent studies by Kansas State Univer?sity, periodic pollutions of the reservoir with the herbicide atrazine and the bacteria escherichia coli are being dissipated, and washed through the reservoir easily. They are not a problem, she said.

A unit of water can remain in the reservoir for 2.5 years, she said, but recent draw-downs and heavy rains have put water through more rapidly.

Most erosion problems and resulting sediment in the lake have been determined to come from a few land uses on private land, Blackman said.

Trees are doing an excellent job holding stream and lake banks together, she said, although she and the commissioners discussed problems elsewhere with log jams packed with sediment.

Bridge project

The commissioners left Monday afternoon to meet with Chase County commissioners in Cottonwood Falls to discuss cost-sharing a bridge on the line between the two counties.

The Kansas Department of Transportation will cover 80 percent of the $395,000 construction costs for the bridge project. Total costs are $512,000.

The counties would have to pay $30,000 in engineering, $8,000 in right-of-way cost, $7,000 for utilities and $7,000 for geology at a total of $52,000.

County Clerk Carol Maggard said the valuation of Marion County is $101.9 million and the valuation of Chase County is just under $39.9 million. Using that ratio, Marion County would pay 61 percent of costs while Chase County would pay 39 percent.

Other issues

The commissioners approved extending the contract for installing the emergency generator on the courthouse grounds from June 19 to July 13 because a contractor was furnished the wrong electrical parts and has to wait on shipment of materials to fabricate the needed parts.

Maggard said County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman turned over nearly $81,300 to the county general fund from the special auto fund at the end of May. She called it ?the biggest amount ever, a real shot in the arm.?

By law, Maggard said Bateman could retain the funds to use in her own department, but she chooses to turn a balance over to the county annually.

Maggard said she has received a report from Tim Oglesby, agent for Blue Cross Blue Shield, that the county has gained on a deficit of $200,000 in its county employee plan, now $11,681.

The commissioners voted to accept 95 percent federal funding for $5,260 with a $263 county share for voice audio on the latest voting machines.

Commissioner Bob Hein said it?s a good benefit to the county to get funding like that.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he agreed with Hein, but is also concerned what will happen some day when the federal funding ends, and the county has to decide whether to operate expensive equipment on its own.

The commissioners awarded an area fuel bid of $17,299.50 to Cooperative Grain of Hillsboro over a competitive bid of $17,364.50 from Cardie Oil of Tampa.

Hein noted that compared to recent months, ?the prices are creeping back up again.?

The commissioners received an invitation from Dickinson County to join with other counties in a strategy meeting June 11 in Abilene to consider how to deal with Transcanada Keystone Pipeline?s construction of a large bore pipeline through central Kansas counties en route to Oklahoma.

Among Dickinson County?s first suggestions are that Transcanada be required to pay easement fees sufficient for such items as county-regulated on-site inspection.

In addition they would require the company to repair or replace for any damage to roadways, bridges and county infrastructure.

County Emergency Medical Services Director Steve Smith reported 90 ambulance calls for May, 16 from Peabody, 10 from Florence, one back-up, 22 from Marion, 37 from Hillsboro and four from Tampa.

Smith urged interested persons to call him to join another EMT class to start soon. Hein said EMT volunteers are greatly needed.

Marion County Park & Lake Superintendent Steve Smith reported a busy Memorial Weekend with 37 camping permits and 51 tent sites sold, plus 216 zebra mussel inspections of boating equipment conducted.

He showed photos of newly completed lake stone fire pits that replicate original 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps construction.

Smith said he is frequently asked by visitors about the availability of cabins at the lake.

The commissioners agreed the issue of cabins needs to be readdressed following the recent decision by a private party not to put them there.

The commissioners accepted a bid of $5,600, subject to review because of the disparity in prices, from Florey Roofing and Construction of Halstead for removing old shingles, installing felt, covering with 30-year shingles, and trimming on three outhouses, two shelter houses and the lakehouse at Marion County Lake.

Competitive bids were $10,575 from Winter Construction of Marion, $16,126 from C&J Roofing of Marion, and $11,890 from Ship Shape Roofing of Marion.

Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman said she is visiting with all city officials in the county regarding development needs and help with events.

She and the commissioners discussed her turning her car over to the appraiser?s office for use while she acquires a mini-van that can transport and store booth set-ups and boxes of materials. Huffman will check State of Kansas surplus auto sales and local dealerships for mini-van prices.

She met in executive session for personnel with the commissioners for 20 minutes.

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