Holub says pipeline payoff near

There?s a chance that Marion County could get a new office and storage building along with a new county jail?without raising taxes.

Commissioner Dan Holub said Monday at the Marion County Commission meeting, ?I have confidence? that Marion County may receive a large sum of money in the next six months as a result of a settlement of TransCanada Keystone?s tax-exemption issue in Kansas.

Marion County has been among a group of counties, led by Dickinson County, retaining legal services to overturn the state?s exemption, thus adding the new Keystone pipeline to county tax rolls.

A quick check by County Clerk Carol Maggard during Monday?s meeting showed that a little less than $1,000 of the $2,000 Marion County allocated for attorney?s fees on the question has been spent.

Holub said he was so confident of what his sources were telling him about a potential settlement that he asked that the day?s scheduled discussion on building an estimated $1 million, 800,000-square-foot office building be delayed.

?There?s a good possibility that we?re close to a Keystone settlement,? Holub said, ?that we could wait six months, then do it from our revenues.

?It could be in the millions,? he added. ?We may even end up looking at a mill-levy break.?

Commissioner Bob Hein said he had received calls favorable toward putting up a new office building?a possibility that came up when remodeling was required for the downtown building that houses the public-health department.

Hein said people say they hate to spend the money, but they understand the problem.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said, notwithstanding Holub?s news about a settlement check, ?I am still willing to push on an office building.?

The three commissioners joined in saying they couldn?t leave employees laboring under current conditions.

Holub said one reason for his confidence is that even though the state granted Keystone a 10-year tax exemption, the company is required to file a request for exemption?and has not done so.

Dallke said if planning is in place for a new building by Jan. 1, the commissioners could continue with financing plans even if millions from Keystone didn?t come through.

Gayla Ratzlaff, coordinator for the Department on Aging, said it may be better not to move her offices from the Marion Senior Center to a new building.

She said the offices are convenient for senior citizens who come to eat at the center, or who have business a half-block down at the courthouse. They come to her for help on issues such as health insurance, she said.

Ratzlaff said the $200 rent her department pays to the senior center for two office spaces ?is very fair.?

Holub said it was good to have somebody like Ratzlaff step forward to explain a department?s situation.

?We don?t want to accidentally screw something up that?s working well the way it is,? he said.

Dallke said it is premature to talk about which departments might be moved. In the end, it will be best for commissioners to decide what is best for the total picture.

Maggard announced that the county valuation is increasing. The number for July was just over $107 million compared to just over $102.2 million in November 2009.

Maggard said the change doesn?t have to do with real or personal property, but is the result of state-assessed items such as railroads, utilities and pipelines.

Health insurance for county employees may increase, Maggard said, because employee claims are running the county?s Blue Cross plan in the red versus county premiums.

The commissioners approved Planning and Zoning Director Tonya Richard?s purchase of a computer for $1,680 through Great Plains Computers, Marion.

The commissioners voted to allow a new full-time employee for Rollin Schmidt, director of the transfer station and noxious weed and household hazardous waste department. The employee would be qualified to do secretarial work as well as physical labor in each of Schmidt?s departments as needed.

Cardie Oil Inc. of Tampa was awarded road-and-bridge area fuel bids totaling $6,714 for 2,950 gallons of diesel in areas 1 and 2 compared to a competitive bid of $6,718 from Cooperative Grain & Supply of Hillsboro.

Cooperative Grain was awarded area fuel bids totaling $8,182 for 3,600 gallons of diesel in areas 3 and 4 compared to a competitive bid of $8,265 from Cardie.

Budget requests for 2011 remained flat from former years. County Extension Agent Rickey Roberts requested $127,000, Marion County Fair Association President Chuck McLinden asked for $14,007, Elizabeth Schmidt representing Harvey-Marion Counties Community Develop?mentally Disabled Organization asked for $62,000, and Ratzlaff requested $4,000 to add to an existing $16,000 vehicle budget.

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