Pipeline project credited for jump in tax revenue

The Marion County sales tax received from the state for May was so large that County Clerk Carol Maggard didn?t report it at the Marion County Commission payday meeting last week as normal, she told commissioners Monday.

Instead, she waited until County Clerk Jeannine Bateman confirmed it with a state accountant.

Bateman said she thought it had to have been a case of somebody at the state level hitting the wrong key. But instead, the accountant confirmed the figure was correct.

The sales tax paid by the public in March, collected by the state in April and disbursed to the county in May was $84,086.45, about double the normal total tax.

Bateman said more than half the amount was state compensating tax?from out-of-county purchases or the Internet?due the county. In this case, she said, the state accountant said most of it came from pipe purchases by a company building a line through Marion County.

Commissioner Dan Holub said he appreciated the irony of the receipt that the county is apparently getting a tax increment from TransCanada Keystone Pipeline even though the company was granted state tax exemption for 10 years.

Bateman said the monthly compensating sales tax normally runs in the $4,000 range. She said the county portion of the monthly tax at $40,220.40 was normal.

The county got an additional bump financially with Road and Bridge Director Jim Herzet?s news for the commissioners from the Kansas Department of Transportation that bid letting for a bridge five miles south of Lincolnville and seven miles east, at 240th and and the county line on a blacktop to Elmdale, has been rescheduled for bid letting from April to December.

The state will allow the county to wait to pay its 20 percent share of the bridge until 50 days after bid letting, he said.

Herzet explained that the county won?t know the cost of the bridge until after the bid letting determines it.

Linda Ogden, director of Communities in Schools, told commissioners that her agency needs public tax-deductible donations to continue aid to financially challenged families with agencies that usually help running out of funds this year.

She said more than 70 households will have nowhere else to turn this year when they are unable to pay utility bills. The Christian Ministerial Alliance is the only agency still helping, she said, but it is suffering duress in collecting funds.

The food pantries are also being depleted, she said.

Ogden said CIS normally pays out $10,000 annually for such assistance to families in need. She asked that the public send donations or inquiries to CIS at 812 E. A St., Hillsboro, KS 67063.

CIS helps mentor families at risk in Marion County with about $15,000 in grant funds paid out to the Marion County Health Department for $6,000 paid in, Ogden said.

Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman presented a computer video on four alternatives that might be provided through KDOT by Kansas taxpayers in conjunction with Oklahoma and Texas taxpayers on new Amtrak train routes through those states.

She said businesses with employees who travel, such as on a frequent Wichita to Kansas City basis, heavily favor the development because it would be cheaper to pay train tickets than mileage.

Huffman said the businesses could also change travel down time to productive time for employees because they could use computers and telephones while traveling by train.

Senior citizens and other travelers may also benefit in purchase of train tickets that allow them to drop off a day at at time at communities on-route, and then get back on the next day?s train at no added cost, she said.

She and the commissioners are hoping for daytime train travel through Marion County to enhance the benefits.

?A Florence Depot could also happen if we pursue it,? said Huffman.

The commissioners also extensively discussed the future role of the Marion County Economic Development Council saying they could allow the council to determine the direction it will take as long as there is financial accountability.

Huffman suggested the commissioners give the council the opportunity to determine its direction.

Transfer Station Director Rollin Schmidt, Maggard and Environmental Health Director Tonya Richards, joined in advising the commissioners that appeals for exceptions to paying the county?s full waste assessment that require their personal visits to private real estate aren?t working.

Richards said the appeals come from persons such as those who have vacation homes here and only produce trash for a portion of the year.

Schmidt said he thought all residential property owners should pay the county?s $81 solid waste assessment fee in full with no appeal for special circumstance.

It ought to be considered a utility like water or electricity, he said, with payment for just having the service there, whether you are using it at the moment or not.

Schmidt cited the program in Harvey County where everybody pays.

The county officers said their concern is with residential properties, not with commercial.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said he thought the county should review all appeals that have been made before coming to a decision??It?s a fairness issue.?

Schmidt said the transfer station processed 749.46 tons of waste last month with 37 hauls, and a disposal cost per ton of solid municipal waste to the landfill of $37.50.

The commissioners approved a $5,755.45 herbicide bid for cost share with farmers from Markley Service of Marion over a competitive bid of $6,180.24 from Ag Service of Hillsboro. Herbicides purchased included Remedy and Milestone.

The commissioners approved purchase of new office furniture by County Attorney Susan Robson on a bid of $4,321.52 from Navrat Office Supply.

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