Prairie View asks for county help to offset state cuts

Kansas counties and the people who live in them seem to continue to suffer with cuts in state budget?a classic case of more bucks for less bang.

Jessie Kaye of Prairie View said she was coming to the Marion County Commission Monday ?with a plea that you?ll maintain our level of local funding.

?It?s been a very difficult time to be in human services.?

Kaye said human services are always a target to be cut first.

Prairie View is a mental health provider for Marion County. She said that the agency served 875 Marion County residents last year with 164 of them with income low enough to receive support for their health needs from county funds.

Kaye said 13 percent of the population of Marion County is on Medicaid, another avenue for support.

Prairie View is asking that $65,000 be included in next year?s county budget, she said.

?We?ve been cut in a series at the state level this year, and we expect to be cut some more,? she added.

In a dilemma the commissioners often have noted before, Kaye said even though the state cuts money, it gives mandates for the agency to perform and automatically looks to the counties to make up the difference.

Often instead of saving money, Kaye said, untreated mental health problems show up later at greater costs in law enforcement intervention, emergency runs, state hospital internships and lost human productivity.

?The (Social and Rehabilation Services) is saying we need to prioritize, to stop serving the next level down in need of care,? she said. ?But that often means leaving those people just until they become more severe.?

Commission Chairman Dan Holub said, ?In other words it?s a triage?just give you more time to get worse, and then we help you.?

Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman said approximately 7,000 persons attended the Syphony in the Flint Hills Saturday east of Florence, and a smaller number came to prelude activities in Florence. That was fewer people than anticipated, she said, but ?it was very nice, and we did our part.?

Huffman said most local businesses openned and temporary vendors profited greatly from the event. She also noted interest in Florence buildings that could result in developmentsin the future.

Sheriff Rob Craft said the three officers assigned to the symphony events found it was all ?very peaceful, very quiet,? with no mishaps.

Craft said one of the next big events will a circus July 12-13 in Hillsboro.

Huffman said her presentations to communities around the county are going very well with new representation to the County Economic Development Council from Durham, Lincolnville and Lost Springs.

County Appraiser Cindy Magill said 267 hearings were scheduled with taxpayers requesting valuation reconsideration. Of these, 12 were canceled and 255 heard, she said, with 184 of those receiving valuation changes, but 71 receiving no change.

Magill said at a recent conference she attended Wichita State University research showed larger cities were influenced in real estate prices by national trend, but the smaller the city, the less the national effect.

Magill?s periodic four-year contract renewal as appraiser was renewed on a 2-1 vote by the commissioners after 25 minutes of executive session. Holub and Commissioner Bob Hein voted to renew the contract, and Commissioner Randy Dallke voted against.

She was approved for a $49,000 annual salary on a 3-0 vote.

Instead of immediately investing in new mowing equipment to replace a wornout mower, the commissioners approved a bid from Ginger Helmer-Richter to mow the courthouse grounds for $35 each time, plus $12 an hour for trimming shrubs.

Alternative bids ranged from $60 to $100 for the mowing. County Clerk Carol Maggard said there was also interest from young people who wanted to work for someone else. The commissioners said they wanted the mowing done weekly, and always after 5 p.m.

Maggard was directed also to check on a watering system for the courthose lawn and flower beds to help beautify the grounds. The source of the watering would be a well on the courthouse grounds.

Soil conservation district representatives asked the commissioners to be included in the 2010 budget for $28,790.

Transfer Station Director Rollin Schmidt reported 889.44 tons of all waste going through the transfer station in May.

Schmidt said the first semi-truck load of recyclable wastes was shipped to Sunoco Mill of Hutchinson, but the report on tonnage and makeup of the load hasn?t come back yet.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to approve a Marion County Planning Commission recommendation that the former Kingfisher Inn be rezoned from ?commercial? to ?village? as requested by its owner, Gary Dunigan. The commissioners said this likely marked a permanent change in use of the former restaurant for use as a home.

The commissioners approved replacement of the transmission of the Marion rescue truck for $1,673.27 by Hillsboro Ford compared to competitive bids of $1,679.60 from Midway Motors of Hillsboro, and $1,806.28 from Webster Auto of Marion.

The commissioners approved engineering for $6,000 with the firm of Kirkham-Michael on 28 miles of roads to receive chip and seal surfacing this summer.

The commissioners will continue consideration of a document prepared by Dickinson County for unified procedure of six Kansas counties, including Marion, in dealing with Transcanada Keysone Pipeline?s construction of a large bore pipeline through central Kansas counties en route to Oklahoma.

Holub said the Canadian company will lay a ?huge? 36-inch pipeline in 80-foot steel sections requiring use of very large bulldozers and trucks. ?They are going to rip our roads to shreds.?

He said counties are disappointed that the state is going to allow the pipeline with no taxation. The only compensation will be to landowners from TKP because the landowners will lose rights to build on the line.

Holub said that for counties the situation is like, ?We?re Atlanta, and look out because Sherman?s coming. I don?t know what they might do to our chip and seal roads.?

The commissioners approved a price of $23.20 a ton for cold mix, negotiated down from estimates of $28 to $30 a ton by Road and Bridge Director John Summerville, with Hall Brothers of Salina.

Summerville said the cold mix ?will be used with our own millings? for road patching.

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