Marion County commissioners agreed to purchasing the former Straub International building and grounds for $325,000 during its meeting Monday.
Commissioner Dan Holub said the commission negotiated with Ron Straub, president of Straub International, based in Great Bend.
“We toured the building and made an offer,” Holub said. “Straub rejected it and made a counter offer and then we made the $325,000 offer, which was accepted.”
Randy Dallke, commission chair, said all three commissioners and county representatives pertinent to the discussions were involved in the negotiations.
“The county will close on the building and grounds in 60 days to get this wrapped up,” Dallke said.
“I was a little hesitant, but Commissioner Lori Lalouette was in agreement with meetings involving Straub officials,” he added. “Lori said this is a good thing for the county.”
Holub said he’s been nervous for the past 12 years because of the proximity of the county shop on Coble Street to Marion Elementary School and Main Street.
“In the old shop (on Coble), the equipment doesn’t fit and we have kids running around there at the same time we have big trucks and equipment coming in from the country,” Holub said.
Road graders would be parked in the current shop, Holub said, and the only way to get from one side to the other would be to crawl under the grader because there was no room on either end.
“The equipment just got huge,” he said.
The purchase should solve that problem, he said.
No new facility
Holub said a storage building they were looking to build would have cost the county about $300,000.
“For $25,000 more, we got a building we can store equipment in,” Holub said. “We are also running out of room in the attic (of the courthouse), and we shouldn’t even be storing up there.”
The papers being stored in the attic are heavy, he added, and county offices are jammed. With 16,000 square feet of space, the Straub building should provide a lot of storage space, Holub said.
“A lot of things will be accomplished with this (purchase),” he said.
Emergency Medical Services also was looking for a place to house its permanent personnel.
“If we move the extension office out of the building by the courthouse, there will be plenty of space for EMS,” Holub said. “We would have a place for them, and again, without having to buying anymore buildings.”
Dallke said he would like to look at moving the offices for the planning and zoning department off Main Street.
“We will be working on the floor plans and getting people together and moved in,” he said.
In addition to storage space, the Straub location also has a fuel facility on site.
Dallke said a lot of decisions will need to be made next year about moving, streamlining operations, maintaining efficiency and getting rid of excess.
“I am not in the mood to keep buying more for the county,” Dallke said. “Even though the purchase was expensive, there would have been an expense to build new, too.”
Dallke said updating was necessary.
“We have to keep moving ahead,” he said.
Holub said even though the building is going off the tax roles, there were “no other takers.”
If someone had shown interest, Holub said the commissioners would have bowed out.
“I would entertain that if somebody walks in here next week and says we have a buyer for that building,” Dallke said.
Holub said the old shop on Coble Street likely will be for sale at some point.
The purchase also addressed a lot of storage problems, Holub said.
“The old shop (on Coble) would probably be for sale in the future along with the facility that houses planning and zoning.
The county currently rents storage from Hillsboro at a cost of $250 a month, Dallke said.
The final vote was 2-0 in favor of buying the building with Lalouette absent.
Straub International closed its agriculture equipment dealership in Marion about four months ago.
The commissioners agreed to proceed with an extension district between Marion and McPherson.
Marion County currently pays an allocation for extension services, Dallke said, but in moving forward with extension districting, it will create a new taxing sub-unit of government.
County Clerk Tina Spencer said this sub-unit would be similar to a fire district or cemetery district.
“If approved, the extension district would file a budget, and taxes would be levied,” she said.
Rickey Roberts, Marion County extension agent, said Marion and McPherson counties would team up for service delivery.
“The hard sell is that it will be harder for us (taxes),” Dallke said.
“(The agricultural community) doesn’t use county extension,” he added. “Rick has been here a long time and is a good, dedicated person to this job, but the public doesn’t use the extension office.”
Roberts told Holub after a recent extension meeting in McPherson that the plan is to put together a resolution with McPherson extension people.
“If the two (extension offices) were combined, they could do more,” he said.
When the commission requested that the extension department have a part-time secretary, Dallke said, commissioners were told they needed a full-time secretary because who would answer the telephone the other half of the time.
The extension district also will turn the control over to a board, which is why Dallke said they need to make sure every dollar counts.
In other business, the commissioners:
• decided to cancel its membership with the League of Kansas Municipalities after the cost went up more than $500 from last year.
Spencer said she would find out if the other departments are using this service.
The commissioners directed Spencer to write a letter to LKM and say they haven’t used its services enough to justify paying the $500 increase.
• will renew dues with the Kansas Association of Counties at a cost of $3,000.
• went into executive session with EMS Director Ed Debesis for 20 minutes. After returning to open session, Debesis hired Matt William and Kevin Marler as emergency medical technicians.