At its Dec. 10 meeting, the Marion County Commission approved hiring a county administrator, made strides with the five-member district map and accepted a bid for the first phase of the transfer station renovations.
Commission chairwoman Dianne Novak proposed a county administrator after talking to constituents and others throughout the county.
“It is absolutely necessary to take the initiative to hire a county administrator,” she said.
Additionally, Novak directed a question to Commissioner Kent Becker about making a special point of having money in the 2019 budget for the position.
“I’m assuming you agree?” she asked.
Becker said: “We budgeted for two years, and last year devoted funds for another project.
“But, I believe going forward, the county does need to have an administrator.”
Commissioner Randy Dallke said he thought it was sad the county is going against the will of the Marion County public.
The vote was 2-1 with Dallke casting the dissenting vote.
Official action will be taken when the resolution is created.
Following the meeting, Novak said she was pleased the commissioners are beginning the process in hiring a county administrator, who will be under the supervision and direction of the commission.
“An administrator will promote ethical government through commitment to a set of ethical standards that goes beyond those required by law,” she said.
Novak said the administrator will also promote equity and fairness by ensuring services are distributed and that administrative decisions are based on merit rather than favoritism.
“A professional administrator will bring budget preparation in-house, technical knowledge, grant writing, economic development experience, academic training and management expertise, contributing to operational efficiencies,” she said.
Other advantages based on the aforementioned would further result in lower taxes, and with the five-member board will enhance the opportunity for success, she said.
At the Dec. 3 meeting, Dallke questioned the money being spent on heated flooring, and Becker suggested throwing out the five bids proposed for the transfer station.
After listening to Dallke and Becker’s concerns, Leon D. Osbourn, president of Kaw Valley Engineering, asked to review the bids and see what they could do as alternatives to the floor.
Osbourn said he did want to note that the numbers will continue to go up and down until the final work is completed.
“I’ve seen a lot of cost estimates in our file, and again based on preliminary site plans,” he said.
“What’s leading the pack is the concrete retaining walls that would shave between $100,000 and $200,000 off the top,” Osbourn said.
Novak asked for clarification on some of the costs and that some of those are estimates only.
Dallke addressed the commission and said the proposed shop probably wouldn’t be used every day.
“I don’t expect that to happen,” he said. “I think the actual building cost on that was $64,000.
“When we look at reality, we want a place to store things or work on things.”
Dallke said he wanted to know where we want to be.
“The office is proposed while demolition is going on, but it needs to be beside the building or in the building,” he said.
Bud Druse, transfer station supervisor, said the reason the office is down there, and that’s going to be the office, is because of disability association.
“We haven’t had that problem yet, but if we don’t have access we could be in trouble,” Druse said.
Need a place to operate out of while the other building is being torn down, he added.
Druse said if commissioners want the office by the main building, “it’s up to you.”
Novak said she would like to move on the low bidder, Nelson-Fowles.
Looked at other buildings with the offices in those buildings, but Druse said they wanted to make it work by keeping the public out of the main areas where the actual work is being done.
“We are trying to make it work and stay within budget,” Druse said. “I am not going to feud over it. I will work with it.
“And, we are running out of town.”
Becker said maybe they could move forward and leave the building where it is, using change orders for some of the changes.
The decision was to move forward, but Becker said the cost needs to stay down.
“We will spend a lot more and the commission will be more hands-on,” he said, “but (county clerk) Tina Spencer will need to look at some other financing options.”
By a vote of 2-1, the commission elected to go with Nelson-Fowles LLC, at $297,000, but contingent on change orders to be determined and leaving the building like it is.
Dallke was the dissenting vote.
Novak said she worked on the five-member commission proposal for two days and talked with Hillsboro and Marion city officials, plus one of the city council members of Florence.
“I think my proposal was within 12 percent,” she said, “and met all the population requirements.”
Becker said he spoke with Hillsboro representation and they were satisfied with the breakout and with Hillsboro being broken into two districts.
Anthony Roy, director of Hillsboro economic development director, said Hillsboro was happy with it.
Trayce Warner, Florence council member, said she was glad to see Florence wasn’t divided.
Although the 2010 census figures were used as the population guide, the population declined by 600, according to information Spencer provided.
The commission decided to wait on the proposed divisions and let members of the public review and educate them.
“Some people really like the idea of being one of the ones to have a new representative,” Novak said.
Dallke asked county counselor Brad Jantz if the public might want the five-member commission now that a county administrator was approved.
Regarding the redistricting map presented by Novak, Spencer said later on Monday that there could be a problem with that map.
“There may be an issue because Centre Township is split north and south,” Spencer said. “As it sits today, Centre Township as a whole is one precinct. We do not have precinct level population data to split it in that manner.
“(The redistricting map) will need further review.”