Commissioners hold firm on Extension consolidation

Marion County commissioners Dan Holub and Randy Dallke reiterated their opposition Monday to creating a joint district with Dickinson County for Kansas State Research & Extension.

Rickey Roberts, Extension?s agricultural agent for Marion County, had asked for time at Monday?s meeting to see if the commissioners had ?any new thoughts? after hearing that Dickinson County recently had approached Saline County about forming a unified district.

?They?re going to district with someone, and I would prefer them to district with us,? Roberts said.

He said by joining with Dickinson County, Marion County would save up to $7,000 a year and would benefit from expanded services with the addition of another agent, possibly in the area of horticulture.

Roberts said the day could come when Marion County could not sustain an acceptable Extension program on its own, but commissioners will have lost the opportunity to team with what Roberts considers to be Marion County?s best option for partnership, given the larger population centers to the west and south.

Holub and Dallke said their fundamental concern about uniting with Dickinson County was that it would create another tax entity over which Marion County would have no control.

?I have an aversion to increasing the number of people who can tax,? Holub said.

Roberts argued that reconfigured Extension districts around the state have proven that combining forces does save tax money.

?It?s just a good business deal for us,? Roberts said.

Dallke said he didn?t see the need to add more staff at this time. Furthermore, he said Extension programs may be adequately funded now, but if a budget crisis surfaces, ?everybody protects themselves,? and the district would almost certainly increase its mill levy.

Commission chairman Roger Fleming was absent for most of the discussion with Roberts.

Other business

In other business, the commissioners:

? said they would look into a request made by Chris Holub and Tamra Holub to receive county assistance with digging utility trenches for the rental cabins project they are proposing for Marion County Lake.

The Holub siblings are concerned that the presence of natural bedrock at the location may make the project cost prohibitive if the digging effort turns out to be more difficult than originally projected.

The Holub family is proposing to develop three rental cabins and an office to begin with, and eventually could build as many as 10 cabins if the project is profitable.

? adjusted several salaries for staff members who had reached longevity milestones with the county.

? authorized Jim Herzet, road and bridge director, to gather bids for a laptop computer that would have the capacity to run software he?d like to acquire that would help his department maintain the county?s 14 road graders rather than absorbing expensive service calls from contracted professionals.

Herzet said it?s not unusual to pay $500 per service call just to cover fuel and driving time. The software program, which costs around $990 a year, would come with training for county personnel, Herzet said.

? discussed funding strategies with Herzet for fixing the Tampa Road, a job estimated to cost around $2 million. County Clerk Carol Maggard will work with financing personnel to come up with a proposal.

? heard Maggard report that multiple taxing entities in the county had not responded to the county?s query whether they would participate in the county?s revised neighborhood revitalization program.

Commissioners instructed Maggard to send another letter to those entities, requiring a response by Jan. 31 if they wish to be included.

? signed documents authorizing another year of the Noxious Weed Department?s cost-share program for ag chemicals. Producers can purchase chemicals for a discount by using the equivalent of gift certificates generated by the county office.

The program has a spending limit of $10,000, but director Rollin Schmidt said the highest amount spent was around $8,000 several years ago.

? authorized Schmidt to repair the department?s one-ton, four-wheel-drive flatbed truck, which has been having mechanical difficulties. Schmidt raised the issue of buying a different truck, but said one-ton trucks are hard to come by in the current market.

? agreed to sign a document that would continue the approval process for Louis Harrison, owner of J&L Iron, Hillsboro, to be certified to recycle electronic waste in Marion County.

Schmidt recommended the commissioners sign the document since Harrison?s proposal meets the requirements of the county?s waste management plan.

? approved the participation of Gary Diepenbrock in the county?s neighborhood revitalization program for the original 10-year period. Diepenbrock had applied for the tax rebate program for making building improvements when commissioners were reviewing the plan.

Commissioners eventually changed the program to five years instead of 10, but agreed to give Diepenbrock the full 10 years since he had started the application process when that stipulation was still in place.

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