New radios, solid waste fee increase addressed by county

The Free Press

Marion County commissioners continued their discussion of upgrades to the 800 MHz radios, considered an increase in the solid waste assessment fee and spoke with a Lincolnville resident about a clean-up effort during its Jan. 31 payday meeting.

Sheriff Rob Craft asked commissioners when they wanted to have an informational meeting with other public agencies regarding the 800 MHz upgrades.

“A small grant (from USDA Rural Development) is available that could cover about 15 percent, or $35,000, of the county department cost,” Craft said. “Cities can apply separately.”

Roger Holter, Marion city administrator, confirmed the city also is applying for a USDA Rural Development grant covering 35 percent of the cost, but the city of Hillsboro might not be eligible for the grant based on income guidelines.

Commission Chair Randy Dallke said Craft should pursue the grant. Commis­sioners Dianne Novak and Lori Lalouette agreed.

In an earlier meeting, Craft said the difference from the conventional system is that law enforcement officials have an assigned frequency.

The 800 MHz method is more flexible, allowing different public safety agencies —fire, EMS, emergency management and others—to communicate with state, county or other local police and vice-versa.

Commissioners directed Craft to tentatively set a meeting with other cities and agencies for 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, in the Marion Community Center.

Transfer station woes

Bud Druse, director of the county transfer station, recycling, weeds and household hazardous waste, said a hole exists in the basement floor of the transfer station.

He said a 7-foot by 12-foot sheet of 5/8-inch thick metal plate could be fabricated to cover the hole at a cost of $1,802 at Salina Steel or $1,965 at Marion Manufac­turing.

The commissioners directed Druse to go with the Salina Steel bid to address the immediate safety concern.

“The new metal plate will be supported by metal beams already in place,” Druse said.

He also discussed the solid waste assessment fee.

“The current rate is $81 a year for each residence,” Druse said. “This has been in place for many years and has never been increased.”

With major upgrades needed at the transfer station, Dallke said, the commission will be considering a fee increase.

Noxious weeds

Druse presented the weed management plan for 2017, which was unanimously approved.

He said Emma Tajchman, director of planning and zoning, and Sharon Omstead were appointed to the solid waste management committee, replacing former director Tonya Richards and Eileen Sieger, respectively.

Druse also spoke to commissioners about the noxious weed share certificate program.

“The program allows landowners to purchase chemicals from vendors in the county at a discounted price, with the county picking up a portion of that cost,” he said.

The commissioners reviewed a list of property owners using the program in 2016.

Dallke suggested the county continue the program in 2017 with a maximum cost of $5,000 and a maximum of $500 offered to any individual. The vote was unanimous.

Druse said he wanted commissioners to know that a property with a musk thistle infestation was sprayed.

“We will follow up later in the year to determine whether additional measures are needed,” he said.

Commissioners approved the annual report. Druse said the report outlines which areas were surveyed during the year as well as spraying and other functions performed by the department. The report was submitted to the state.

Salvage extension

Gavin Shields requested an extension for cleaning up salvage property owned by Linda Green and her husband on the edge of Lincoln­ville.

Dallke said the cleanup deadline has passed and the property is not in compliance.

Tajchman said the compliance letter sent previously established a deadline to be completed with a possible 60-day extension if progress is made.

“I will need at least six more months to remove items from the property and what could remain?” Shields asked.

Dallke responded: “The county could come clean up the property and charge the landowner.”

Both Shields and Green said they didn’t want to get to that point.

“I have no problem granting a six-month extension,” Novak said. “But in doing so I expect no further extension be requested after that point.”

The commissioners granted the extension by consensus and will follow up with Shields in a couple of weeks to specify what items must be removed from the property.

Flood maps

Tajchman reported that new preliminary flood maps for Marion and the surrounding area were released by Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“The Department of Water Resources is likely to move forward with remapping the entire county,” she said. “This may affect homeowners with current Letters of Map Amendment (LOMA) on file.”

An informational meeting on the countywide project is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the Marion City Building.

Consultant David Yearout said the only thing the county needs to do is to “stay active” in the flood insurance program.

Variance request

The Marion Planning Commission met at 7 p.m. Feb. 2 regarding the county’s conditional-use permit application for the Straub building, Tajchman said.

She said she presented two post-construction wastewater permit variance reports.

“Property owners constructed wastewater systems without going through the permitting process and neither meets current county setback requirements,” she said. “The first property owner installed a lagoon to replace a failing septic system.”

She said she would recommend the commission grant a variance to allow a 50-foot setback from the property line.

The alternative, she said, would be to require the homeowner to relocate the lagoon.

“Other properties in the area have similarly placed systems,” Tajchman said.

Dallke said he would allow a 50-foot setback for the lagoon located at 1541 Kansas Highway 15. The motion passed, 3-0.

The second property owner is installing a septic system, Tajchman said. Her recommendation was to require an additional line to the system for a 20-foot setback for laterals on the property. The property is located at 2041 Kansas Highway 168.

“At some point in the future, the county should update its sanitation code to be less restrictive,” Tajch­man said.

Roads and bridges

Jesse Hamm, superintendent of the Road and Bridge Department, asked if the commission would like a plaque on Bridge 224 naming board members, the department superintendent and information about the bridge and when it was built.

“The information would be useful, but see if the plaque could be developed without the commissioners’ names,” Dallke said.

In addition, Hamm said, a used 2013 Caterpillar 120M2 motor grader is for sale. “The unit has 1,980 hours of use and is listed at $174,000,” he said.

Commissioners directed Hamm to look at the motor grader and find out what the county could get on trade-in allowances for older units.

Hamm said he hired a new truck driver and an equipment operator for the culvert crew.

Other business

In other business, commissioners:

• accepted the Cardie Oil bid for all three areas at a cost of $10,188.50. Transfer fuel bids were accepted from Cooperative Grain & Supply in Hillsboro for $14,985. Commissioners, by consensus, will allow a company in Omaha, Neb., to bid on transport fuel, with the understanding that the county is not obligated to select the low bidder. The decision, Dallke said, was in the interest of competition, but also supporting local businesses whenever possible.

• canceled an afternoon appointment with Steve Hudson, superintendent of Marion County Park and Lake.

• heard from County Clerk Tina Spen­cer that sales tax for November was $54,490.32. The special half-cent sales tax distribution for the construction of the jail was $47,630.89.

Spencer said the commissioners should consider requesting a change in the current legislation to allow the county to finance other buildings in the future, such as a new transfer station, EMS building and storage building.

“If a change in legislation is granted, the matter would still need to be approved by the voters as a ballot question,” she said.

• approved a list of expenditures with the warrant register signed for a payday figure of $1,203,897.

• visited 320th Road and Goldenrod for a road/driveway viewing at Tim Koehn’s property. Koehn said he wants to build a new home in that location, but there is a concern about locating the driveway within an area that frequently is damaged by high water. No decision was made, but commissioners instructed Hamm and Tajchman to put together a list of issues to be addressed, including the cost of road materials needed if the home site is approved.

• met in executive session for five minutes at the request of Craft to discuss personnel. In open session, the commissioners unanimously approved allowing Undersheriff Dave Huntley a carryover of 70 hours until June 1.

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