Commission deals with bevy of issues

The Marion County Board of Commissioners met for their regular weekly meeting on Monday, Sept. 14. All of the commissioners were present.

Administrative Business

The board approved the minutes from their meeting last week. They also discussed upcoming conferences.

County Clerk Tina Spencer presented several copier bids she received for a new copier for the Marion County Clerk’s Office. The current copier is 10 years old and the office is in need of a new one.

The commissioners voted to go with CBS for the new copier since they had the lowest bid. This bid offers a 36 month lease with a 10 year service agreement. Spencer also allowed for overage to be built in on copies bringing the totals to $12,078.72 for lease and $12,215.00 for purchase.

The other two bids were for 360 Documents and Konica Minolta.

Health Department Update

Diedre Serene, Marion County Health Department Administrator, updated the commissioners on the federal fiscal year 2021 WIC participation and allocation so that Chairman Jonah Gehring could sign off on it.

The contract for Marion begins on Oct. 1, 2020 and ends Sept. 30, 2021 unless stated differently.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Kansas WIC provide a special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children and the WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program.

Marion has around 73 participants for the WIC program. The approved budget for this is about $55,000 per year for Marion County. There are monthly checkins for the participants.

Serene explained to the board that she had applied for the ELC Grant, made available through the KDHE ELC COVID-19 Staffing and Infrastructure Support and was designated for local health departments in Kansas for COVID response.

Allowable expenditures included one-time salary adjustments to compensate salaried and/or hourly employees for their extraordinary efforts in the response to the pandemic.

Serene explained that she had met previously with Spencer and with County Attorney Brad Jantz in order to make sure the grant was appropriate for her to apply for and she was told it was. She then sent documentation of it all to the commissioners on July 27.

She explained that the request contains two State Fiscal Years, SFY 2020 & SFY 2021. The one time salary adjustments come from the SFY 2020 (specifically March-June).

“As the Director and the Health Officer, my duties/responsibilities increased and naturally the time spent to fulfill the duties increased. The formula used was 20 hours/week x 4 weeks x 4 months. While I typically work over 40 hours per week, this pandemic has increased hours over and above the typical work hours,” said Serene. “The Preparedness Coordinator, who stepped into the position just about at the time COVID hit, often received and acted on those calls from myself, the EM, and other facilities after hours and on weekends.”

She further explained that several part time employees had agreed to increase their hours and assist with the extra workload that had occurred with the pandemic through disease reporting and investigation.

“Their time has been receiving and placing calls outside the typical work hour. Our medical consultant has definitely been involved and his adjustment will be for $596,” said Serene. “The remainder of the grant will cover 16 hours/week of the investigating nurse’s salary and the medical consultant $150/month through the end of December.”

She was able to use the grant to provide compensation for five of the staff in the health department for increased hours. Some of the tasks covered by the four staff were investigating, surveillance, tracing, nursing, administration and more.

“All of the compensation was approved by the state,” said Serene.

Some of the commissioners had concerns and were not ready to sign off on it.

“I’m having a hard time getting it through my head. Well, I got it through my head. I understand where it’s coming from. But I don’t have no (SIC) extra pots to go out when a snow storm hits, when floods hit and pay my extra people that work that. I’m having a hard time. I understand the amount of time. The meetings, the calls, was (SIC) on Saturdays and Sundays. And I do agree, we didn’t know what was coming. Maybe I just need to hear from Brad.” said Commissioner Randy Dallke.

Commissioner Dianna Novak had different concerns.

“I don’t have concerns about paying them the money because we can’t pay other people because we don’t have the pot, because I know that Diedra (SIC) is aggressive and applies for grants. Maybe others could have for their departments and that isn’t Diedra’s (SIC) fault. I just want to make sure we aren’t violating any of our policies,” said Novak.

“I just want to be absolutely sure we don’t want to break any of our own policies,” agreed Gehring. “I don’t want to open up Pandora’s box is all.”

Jantz later came and agreed that he needed to check into it all to be sure. The board held off on making a decision.

Serene stated that the active cases for COVID-19 are down to 13.

In other business, the council:

n learned the county would be refunded for their dental insurance for the month of April due to the Stay at Home orders preventing anyone from having dental work done. The total is about $6,700. A portion of that belongs to the employees who paid out premiums.

n approved FMLA for a qualified employee

n approved payroll changes and other payables

n heard SPARKS project requests from Serene for PPE and other needed items for the health department

n heard from the Emergency Response Department Director Randy Frank regarding two projects for SPARK funds. The first one was for a storage facility for PPE equipment for the sheriff department. The second project was for an Emergency Response Trailer that could be used for all over the county.

n the board discussed scheduling upcoming interviews for the open position for the County Appraiser.

n the board met in executive session to discuss performance reviews

More from Laura Fowler Paulus
Hillsboro’s Annual Down Home Christmas event was fun for all
Darren Franz and Sue Wadkins dressed up and participated in activities at...
Read More