Matt Harris on Indian Road has a spot right in front of his house where the water is running over the road when we get a lot of rain. He is concerned that the way the water is flowing is coming up around his house.
There was some discussion about the vacation policy for the people working on road & bridge crews. Too many employees are taking vacation all at the same time–particularly at the end of the year. Marty is also concerned that some employees are wearing improper footwear.
Allen Warren made a motion to go into executive session with Marty to discuss non-elected personnel issues (not related to vacation or attire).
At 10 am, the budget amendment hearing started. Employee benefits and road and bridge are expected to exceed the budget. The proposal was to adjust the budget to meet the expected expense. In order to avoid a budget violation the Commissioners will move some money from the general account where they had more income than expected to the accounts where they spent more. Exceeding the budget without amendment would put the county in violation of state law.
All objections were heard and a motion was made an passed to accept the amendment to the budget.
There was some discussion about the increase in employee benefits and if there was a plan to keep the cost of insurance from continuing to climb. The amended budget for health insurance in 2011 totals $1,557,560. With 100 paid county employees this works out to over $15,000 per employee. Some employees do not take county insurance, so the actual cost per employee is higher. (It was unclear if this figure includes the amounts that employees contribute to cover their families.)
The commissioners expressed concern that since they have not given raises for the past four years, health insurance is one of the main reasons people will work for the county. Chairman Endicott said, it is hard to get people to apply for jobs as it is.
The Commissioners were asked if there was a long term plan for dealing with the increasing costs of employee benefits. They said there wasn’t. They were also asked if the plan was to just raise the mill levy as needed to cover the increased costs of employee benefits. The Commissioners asked if there were any suggestions for dealing with other increases such as gas prices pointing out that other costs were going up as well.
There was some discussion about capping the amount that the county spends on employee benefits.
This is the first payroll that the county has done direct deposit. Employees that work in the court house will get the receipts for their payroll check in the office, but the ones that don’t work in the court house will get it in the mail.
The County Attorney (Terri Johnson) clarified that the attorney that the AG office did get the first letter requesting that they look into allegations against the County Treasurer. The letter that they didn’t receive was the second letter where the AG’s office had requested additional information from the County Attorney.
Dan Meara has yet to provide the list of people who have property that could be sold, but will be held off because it wasn’t published correctly. The Commissioners asked the Clerk’s office to request the lists from Dan Meara for the meeting on January 6th.
FortScott.biz has previously requested a copy of the list showing which property owners overpaid and which underpaid on their taxes. This information is not in the Commissioner’s hands so they could not provide it. FortScott.Biz took the position that the data belonged to the county and that the whether the physical bits reside shouldn’t matter and if it was simply a matter of requesting the data from Terry Sercer, it should be subject to a Kansas Open Records Act Request.
Terri Johnson (County Attorney) has contacted the Attorney Generals office to find out if there is any reason not to release the data and if it is indeed subject to KORA. She said that she thinks that list doesn’t actually belong to the County, but that they can request it. She suggested that the Commissioners need to request that information eventually in order to refund people who overpaid. She also pointed out that if the information is published the community needs to be careful not to vilify citizens who may have underpaid even though they were acting in good faith and paying what they had been told they owed.