July 28 County Commission Meeting

The Saline County Board of County Commissioners met on Tuesday, July 28th. Here are the highlights from the meeting:

• Commissioners heard a request for action to pass a resolution on the intent to issue educational facilities revenue bonds for Kansas Wesleyan University. Saline County issued bonds back in 2012 for KWU that have partially been paid off. It is the intent with these bonds to refinance the outstanding balance on the old bonds and add additional money to take advantage of the lower interest rates to fund an energy solutions project that will increase energy efficiency on campus. There is no financial impact on the County for issuing the bonds, all bond payments will be the responsibility of the university. Commissioners voted to pass the resolution declaring the intent and will have a public hearing and final consideration for this on August 25th.

• Justin Mader, County Engineer, presented a request to award bids for the 2020 Reinforced Box Culvert projects. Bids were received by four companies. Mr. Mader recommended to award four projects that were the low bid to Reece Construction, and one project that was the low bid to L&M Construction. The total cost is $572,527.90 that will be paid with the Special Bridge Construction fund. The earliest that these projects can start is at the time contracts are signed by both parties and must be completed by June 2021. Commissioners approved to award the projects as recommended by staff.

• The City of Salina Commissioners passed the 30-year lease agreement for the County’s continued use of the Kenwood Park land where the Livestock & Expo Center buildings sit in their meeting last night in a 5-0 vote. Today the Saline County Commissioners voted unanimously to sign the lease. The lease will begin January 1, 2021, and will be for a term of 30-years. The County will expend funds to complete several maintenance and improvement projects to the grounds and the buildings as a requirement of the lease. The County has been planning for these maintenance and improvement projects over the past few years and has $1.2 Million allocated for these projects through the County’s Capital Improvement Project program.

• Commissioners heard from Jason Tiller, Health Department Director, as part of their review of the mask mandate resolution. Mr. Tiller provided updated case numbers for Saline County, Kansas, and Nationally. He also showed the newly launched dashboard that provides demographic information in more detail on the cases in Saline County. It has been three weeks since the mandate went into effect and there has been a decrease in the number of cases, anecdotally suggesting that the mask mandate is one of the contributing factors to that. Mr. Tiller recommended that to keep businesses open and to get kids back to school, the mask mandate should continue. The resolution is still in effect and will be until it is modified or repealed by the Commissioners.

• Justin Mader, County Engineer, briefed Commissioners on options regarding a railroad crossing in Bavaria northeast of the grain elevator. After staff researched property ownership and maintenance responsibilities, it was determined that while this crossing has the perception that it is a public road, it is not and has not been maintained by Saline County in the past. Mr. Mader did recommend that Saline County continues to maintain Midland Road, but install signage that delineates where Saline County road maintenance ends as well as a “Dead End” sign. Justin will also suggest to KDOT and the railroad the need to re-classify the crossing as private and would need to be maintained by the owners of the grain elevator and any decision to close the crossing would be up to the railroad and the owners of the elevator.

• Marilyn Leamer, Human Resources Director provided her department update. Mrs. Leamer reported 15 new hires, 9 transfers/promotions, and 6 people left employment in the period from mid-May to mid-July. Staff has been busy going through the insurance renewal process. Saline County’s self-insured plan will make a change in the network provider that will result in only a 0.5% increase in health insurance costs for the County. Due to the County’s self-insured status, the other renewal component is for stop-loss coverage. The switch to a new carrier is resulting in a 21.34% reduction in the premium cost from last year. Mrs. Leamer also reported employment vacancies that the County currently has. There are positions open for Corrections Officers, Intermittent/Part-Time Civil Process Server, Truck Driver/Truck Driver Trainee, Assistant Attorney, Booking Officer, Transport Officer, Property Technician, and a Custodian position. Chairman Vidricksen was quoted in the meeting, “Saline County is hiring.”

• Rosie Walter, Senior Services Director, provided her quarterly update. The kitchen and bathroom remodeling project is complete. The kitchen staff moved back in on June 15th and the Senior Center opened back up to the public on June 22nd. During this quarter, there was a 21% increase in delivered meals (Meals on Wheels), which is a result of the stay at home order and other necessary precautions that were taken for COVID. Senior Services received $25,781.20 in donations/grants from April to June and Meals on Wheels received $15,673.26 in grants/donations during the same timeframe.

• Phillip Smith-Hanes, County Administrator, provided his update to Commissioners reporting on the Coronavirus Funding Advisory Committee’s meeting that was held yesterday, July 28th. The committee looked at the total reimbursement requests that were received by the cities, county, and schools. The application for direct aid went live last Wednesday and the deadline for organizations and businesses to submit an application ends at 5 pm on Friday, July 31st. The committee will go through the applications next week and review the requests to determine if they do meet the necessary criteria as well as fit in with the desires of the committee looking at programs that will benefit the community broadly. All documents and links to the recordings of the meetings can all be found on the County website.

Mr. Smith-Hanes informed commissioners on the Community Development Block Grant Supplemental funding (CDBG-CV) that Saline County was notified of the award of $132,000 late last week. Staff will be working with the North Central Regional Planning Commission who will assist in the administration of the grant. All contracts for the grant will be brought to the Commission next week for review and consideration for acceptance.

• The Saline County Appraiser’s Office received word from the State Property Valuation Division that they have met all of the statistical compliance measures again this year as set forth in State Statute K.S.A. 75-505.

• Lastly, the Commissioners were reminded of a joint meeting that is coming up on Monday, August 3rd at 1 pm with the City of Salina Commissioners to hear the recommendations from the consultant on the emergency radio communications project.

• There was one executive session held for employee/employer negotiations.

Other Announcements:

• Advanced voting for the August Primary Election is occurring now in the Clerk’s office, 300 W. Ash, Room 215 Monday – Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. Advanced Voting will also occur on Saturday, August 1st from 9 am – 4 pm at the City/County Building. Primary Election Day is August 4th. Today, July 28th, is the last day to request a ballot to be mailed to you for the August 4th Primary Election. For questions, please contact the County Clerk’s office at 785-309-5820.

• A Ballot Drop Box was recently installed in the south circle drive of the City-County Building, 300 W. Ash. Citizens can utilize the drop box as a safe, secure, and easy way to return your mail ballot.

The agenda for next Tuesday’s meeting, August 4th, will be released later this week and available on the County website. All County Commission meetings begin at 9 am on Tuesdays.

As we transition back to regular operations but maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, please be advised that there is limited public seating for County Commission meetings, and citizens are required to follow the City of Salina’s mask ordinance. County Commission meetings can be viewed on Access TV, either via Cox Cable Channel 20 or online.