Routine vote canvass changes Marion election outcome

Seven provisional votes approved Monday by the Marion County Commission during city election canvass changed the makeup of the Marion City Council for the coming year.

Dick Varenhorst, who at first appeared to win a council position at the general election with 210 votes, lost when Jerry Kline, originally with 206 votes, received all seven provisional votes, making his total 213.

The provisional votes changed no other election outcomes.

Register of Deeds Jo Ottens?meier sat in for Commis?sioner Bob Hein to canvas the election with Commissioners Randy Dallke and Dan Holub.

Hein reportedly was ill in the hospital, and state statute required three persons to canvass, according to officials.

The commissioners began a fifth-year review of the county?s neighborhood revitalization plan that gives tax abatement to encourage construction with five county department heads?Clerk Carol Maggard, Treasurer Jeannine Bateman, Appraiser Cindy Magill, Attorney Susan Robson, and Planning and Zoning Director Tonya Richards.

They promised a decision soon, in part pending Hein?s return, on whether to continue the program by July or not.

Holub noted the program has added to the workload of the departments greatly because they continue to receive requests for extensions from participants to complete projects, and they find that people are often delinquent in completing paperwork.

Holub said persons in the program may have to be given two years to complete projects instead of one to make it successful.

Dallke said paperwork for the project involves seven ledger pages for each of the 305 people who have chosen to participate. In another five years, that probably will be more than 600 persons, adding considerably to the county?s paper load, he said.

Participants constructing a home or building or adding on to one can start by receiving a 90 percent tax abatement on a declining scale.

Holub said the program is complicated when other tax recipients don?t participate, which allows them to benefit from county improvements while the county itself loses.

Magill verified that Hillsboro and Durham didn?t participate in the program while most other cities in the county joined the county plan, even to the extent of closing their own revitalization plans.

Participating cities benefitted under the umbrella of the county paying expenses and time, Holub said.

Maggard said other tax recipients?ranging from libraries to school districts?didn?t participate either.

Hillsboro has a revitalization plan where a car dealership is to be built, but not one for the new hospital, Magill said. She said the hospital would fall under the county plan.

Robson said Hillsboro also has a revitalization plan on D Street.

In discussion with County Economic Director Teresa Huffman, Holub said he prefers returning the county to an earlier era when its economic development council operated outside county direction or funding.

He said he would like the county commission to look at discontinuing any funding to the council, and instead put its funding into the economic director?s office.

Holub said there hasn?t been a tradition of accountability for county money from the council. There has been ?black-balling? of members, and too many decisions made by a couple of people rather than by public vote, he said.

Dallke agreed that the council at least needs revision.

Huffman said she would be ?glad to help? anybody needing assistance or information.

Huffman said an $832 grant will allow her to attend sessions this summer with the Kansas Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development. This program will assist in developing strategic plans for rebuilding small communities.

Road and Bridge Director Jim Herzet said his department plans to oil seal 27 miles of county roads this year including two miles on Ramona Road, 10 miles on?Kanza Road, seven miles on 150th Road, six miles on County Lake Road and two miles on 90th west of Kansas Highway 15.

Materials for the projects will include 126,050 gallons of oil at $2.35 a gallon for $296,311, and 3,375 cubic yards of CML Buildex cover material at $49.60 a cubic yard for $167,400. Herzet said the total cost for materials is $463,711.

Costs of labor and equipment also need to be added, he said.

The commissioners awarded a transport fuel bid of $20,430 to Cooperative Grain of Hillsboro over a competitive bid of $20,443 from Cardie Oil of Tampa for 5,000 gallons of road diesel, 1,000 gallons of dyed diesel and 2,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline.

Emergency Management Director Michele Abbott discussed state legislation pending on 911 cell phone taxation that could reduce funding and disallow using money for equipment such as radios.

She and the commissioners discussed support of a Kansas House proposal that may be less complicated and more supportive of county funding than a Senate version.

Holub said he would write a letter for legislators outlining the county?s position.

On a letter written last week to legislators concerning Marion County?s displeasure with their lack of support on the issue of property tax exemption for TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, Maggard said she has received receipts for the registered letters sent out to legislators and five supporting counties on the issue.

The commissioners approved writing off $2,439.07 in first quarter ambulance-run emergency medical service bills.

Emergency Medical Service Director Steve Smith said participation in the state set-off program of income tax refunds taken from patrons to pay state and local government bills owed is helping on collections.

He reported 82 ambulance runs for the month, 11 from Peabody, five from Florence, 27 from Marion, 35 from Hillsboro and four from Tampa.

They included 18 transfers, four cardiac, 24 medical emergency, six standby, 13 motor vehicle accident, nine falls, seven no transport and one 10-22.

The commissioners approved a request from County Lake Superintendent Steve Hudson to have a Friday and Saturday free camping event?except for electrical hook-ups?for county residents, both to thank them and promote the lake.

Hudson said there continues to be conflict at the lake between dock owners who don?t want their docks disturbed, and members of the public who want to go on the docks for water access.

The commissioners said the public will have the right to use any dock unless the dock owner is physically present, and wanting to use the dock at the time.

Dallke said he is ?adamant? that it is a public lake, and that the water is publicly owned. He said he didn?t even like dock owners leaving boats in the water?the boats ought to be removed between uses.

Holub said he agreed with Dallke 100 percent, and that if the controversy couldn?t be resolved under current conditions, he thought the commissioners should consider monthly rent for dock owners for their use of ?the public?s water.?

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