July 13, 2021 Tuesday 9:00 am
The Bourbon County Commission met in open session with all three Commissioners, the County Counselor and the County Clerk present.
Also present were the following: (some were present for a portion of the meeting and some were present for the entire meeting), Jason Silvers with the Fort Scott Tribune, Donnie Coffman, Anne Dare, Clint Walker, Susan Bancroft, Nancy Van Etten, Mark McCoy and Rob Harrington.
Clifton made a motion to approve the minutes from the previous meeting, Jim seconded and all approved.
Eric Bailey reported they are fixing washouts around the County. They plan to remove a tree across 85th on July 14th. They did 1 ¼ mile of asphalt surface coating on Arrowhead going North.
Stephen Plaster, a resident at 426 127th Terrace requested the County re-pave a 250 yard strip on 127th Terrace, he said there are dangerous potholes there that are 4-6” deep. He said he was willing to pay a reasonable amount of some of the cost to re-pave this road. Eric estimated it to cost $24,946.32 for 1,916’ or $10,181.40 for 782’ Lynne said the County was responsible for the unincorporated towns. Jim made a motion to approve overlaying this at the end of the season if there is any money left and to look at Devon in the future, Clifton seconded and all approved.
Eric said they would do a blast at the Blake Quarry next week.
Eric said he has been receiving job applicants and received one from someone that lives in Kansas, but is 4 miles out of Bourbon County. The Bourbon County handbook states that there is a residency requirement for County employees; Eric asked if the Commissioners would consider this applicant. Both Jim and Clifton didn’t feel there should be a residency requirement. Clifton made a motion to strike from the handbook the residency requirements, Jim seconded and all approved.
Eric said the Bureau of Waste Management will be at the Landfill Thursday regarding soybean composting; Jim will attend this meeting as well. Eric said they built the berm around the beans yesterday; Jim said the soybeans should be the shells only and said they should not be taking any paste.
Eric discussed the Maple Road project by the Sale Barn that the County did several years ago; he said the State will be refunding Bourbon County $641.41 for that project, Eric said he would deposit the money in special projects.
Eric said the map shows the bridge at 120th & Unity as open, he said it needs to be cleaned out.
Eric questioned which map they should be going by; Lynne said the 89’ map; Shane Walker said the 89’ map is the base map that they use and said edits are done each quarter.
Eric said 1,056’ of Unique and 96th is open according to the map.
Eric said he is working with Susan regarding grants for R/S roads.
Windmill update: Eric said they are working on public radius’s and said they are pouring concrete for the bases.
Eric said they did work on the Stateline Road in Xenia yesterday.
Lynne reported that 95th & Unique needs a culvert.
Eric said they are supposed to get the Sterling truck back this week.
Clifton made a motion to adopt Resolution 19-21; a resolution to continue to support ROZ and to allocate $0 for this, Jim seconded and all approved.
Clifton made a motion to adopt Resolution 20-21; a wage resolution adding the former Mercy employees, Jim seconded and all approved.
Clifton made a motion to go into a 15 minute executive session for KSA 75-4319(b) (6) for the preliminary discussion of the acquisition of real property, the Commissioners will meet in another location and reconvene in the Commission room at 9:43, Jim seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners, Susan Bancroft, Rob Harrington and Justin Meeks). At 9:43, Clifton made a motion to resume the regular session, Lynne seconded and all approved.
Lynne made a motion to move Justin Meeks next executive session to the end of the meeting, Clifton seconded and all approved.
Nelson Blythe, a Sheriff deputy met with the Commissioners; also present for this meeting were Bill Martin, Ben Cole and Kevin Davidson. Nelson thanked the Sheriff and Undersheriff for hiring him and allowing him to serve Bourbon County, he said he wasn’t here to complain or criticize people. He said he had worked for Bourbon County for 4 years, and said last week he had decided to transfer to another agency for financial reasons. He said Allen County paid their Sheriff deputies $2 more/hour, Linn County paid $3 more/hour and Crawford County paid $2 more/hour; he said he thought that was a problem and was raising this issue. He said he couldn’t think of a financial reason to stay here and said he couldn’t afford to put his wife on the insurance here. He said this (law enforcement) is skilled labor and said it takes 2 years to learn how to do the job. He said in his 4 years he had seen 7 deputies leave. Jim said he appreciated him coming to the Commissioners; he said salaries are low here in every department. He said the more we spend the more we have to collect in taxes. Nelson compared the lower taxes paid in Linn County to the higher taxes in Bourbon County; Lynne said a large percentage of taxes in Linn County are derived by the power plant there. Susan said everything stems from the assessed valuation; she said Anderson County had given raises to officers, but said something else suffered because of this. Kevin Davidson challenged the Commissioners to speak with the public and ask what their opinion is on law enforcement, he said he had left employment here and came back, he said he thought law enforcement should be top priority. Lynne said he knew a progressive wage scale was the way to go. Lynne said some budgets had gone up 100% in 5 years. Jim said he thought some citizens would say to pay more money, but would say not to charge any more in taxes. Clifton said they had a town hall meeting where 15 people showed up; he said he was a believer in aggressive law enforcement. Nelson said law enforcement should be a priority and said if we don’t have it then everything else in the community will suffer. Lynne said they had been trying to address the wages. Clifton said it wasn’t fair to compare Bourbon County to the Counties he had compared; Susan suggesting comparing Bourbon County to like Counties, she said we didn’t have a way to generate money here. Bill Martin said they did compare other Counties years ago when Austin Peters did a wage study and said Bourbon County was down 25% then; he said Austin Peters is doing another wage study to see if that has changed. Nelson thanked the Sheriff and Undersheriff and said it had been an honor to serve Bourbon County.
Clifton made a motion to go into a 6 minute executive session for KSA 75-4319(b) (6) for the preliminary discussion of the acquisition of real property, the Commissioners will meet in another location and reconvene in the Commission room at 10:18, Lynne seconded and all approved (the session included the Commissioners, Justin Meeks, Bill Michaud, Susan Bancroft and Rob Harrington). At 10:18, Clifton made a motion to return to regular session, Jim seconded and all approved. Bill Michaud said he had been a recipient of Spark funds for a downtown grocery store; he said that project didn’t go as planned and said they ceased the operation of it in May and tried other options for the store to be a benefit to the community, but that didn’t work out either. Bill said he would like to ask the Commissioners to assume the store and the associated mortgage that goes with that. Jim made a motion that Bourbon County assume the building at 17 S. Main, including the note, contents and all, Clifton seconded, Lynne said the Office of Recovery was called to find out what legal options there were and the legal opinion is that Bourbon County is in charge of the MOU’s for the Spark grant funds, Lynne thanked Bill for trying and all approved the motion. Lynne said he hoped to announce in the future a particular use for the building. Rob Harrington asked the Commissioners to make a motion to withdraw from the MOU between BAJA and Bourbon County. Justin said they may have a title issue and said some legalese will need to be taken care of. Justin said they will need someone to manage the building and recommended that Rob Harrington do this, Justin said they may want to get title insurance. Justin said the State is comfortable with this transaction. Lynne made a motion to allow Bourbon County Ready to manage the property and for Justin to work with Rob Harrington on the closing.
Justin Meeks said he is still working on the tax sale. He said he will be providing a letter to Lynne regarding a petition he received regarding sales tax; he said he met with the individual that presented the petition and they will make changes to the petition. Jim asked that all of the Commissioners get a copy of the letter he presents to Lynne.
Justin said they needed designation to have Janice at the Mercy building to report directly to the Commissioners; all IT issues will be reported to Shane Walker, and mechanical issues will be reported to Janice. Clifton made a motion to allow Janice Baker to report directly to the Commissioners, Jim seconded and all approved.
Public Comment: Donald Coffman said he had been doing road work for 35 years; he asked if they were opening a can of worms since they are having trouble keeping up with the main roads by agreeing to asphalt the road in Hiattville (426 127th Terrace). Jim said the County is the only resource for unincorporated towns, the County used to chip and seal, which is more affordable; Jim said the road in Hiattville is not in good enough shape to chip and seal. Jim said they will need to look at the number of asphalt roads and in the future, they will need to look at what the sales tax can pay. Justin discussed foreseeable issues; he said if a pothole is dangerous, they have to fix it.
Public Comment: Clint Walker questioned the shared HR position between the City and County and asked if they had talked about the salary; Lynne said not yet, Susan said they are setting up interviews now and said the range will be $40,000-$80,000 and said they are looking at someone that is qualified to do both locations.
Anne Dare asked where the applicants were from; Susan said everywhere and in-town. Anne said she felt for Bill Michaud; she questioned if the County was going to assume ownership of the building in hopes of selling it; Lynne said the goal was to repurpose it with a private entity, Clifton said yes, Jim said they want to put the building back on the tax roll.
Nancy Van Etten said she had been on the SEK Library System board for 4 years and said she could continue to serve. Nancy asked for a Lake Sewer District update; she said there were 2 property owners wanting to connect to the district and said some are wanting to sell. Lynne said that Justin had worked with Bob Farmer on this. Nancy said they needed the sewer district agreement completed. Justin said Bob Farmer is working on this and said he would call him this afternoon, Justin said he is waiting on the City to give him a contract so he can approve it. Nancy said the Republican party had a booth at the Bourbon County fair this week and encouraged the Commissioners to come to the booth.
Commissioner Comment: Clifton said he had been asked if the County would provide shot rock to help stabilize the wall at 3rd & Scott (at the Old Fort Auto location), he said the wall is falling down and that it looks bad.
Clifton made a motion that if the Commissioners were at the fair at the same time, it would be ok, Jim seconded and all approved.
Jim said the Sterling truck had been broke down for about 90 days and said the wet season was coming and they would need to be hauling gravel.
Lynne said this was the 2nd time this had happened in the past weeks; he told Anne Dare he didn’t appreciate the comments about the Commissioners getting kickbacks or taking bribes regarding Apex Wind, he said he never took a dime from anyone and said the comments were directly affecting him and his credibility and said he would appreciate it if this stopped. Jim said there were no kickbacks coming. Anne Dare said she wanted to publicly apologize for her comment, she said it was uncalled for and said it wasn’t specific to any of them.
At 10:50, Jim made a motion to adjourn, Clifton seconded and all approved.
At 1:00 the Commissioners held a 2022 budget work session; Lynne, Jim, Kendell and Susan were present as well as the following: (some were present for a portion of the meeting and some were present for the entire meeting), Ben Cole, Bobby Reed, Donald Coffman and Nancy Van Etten). Susan presented the Commissioners with the 1st draft of the 2022 budget. She reviewed each fund’s budget; she suggested using some of the jail sales tax money to fund the lease payments for equipment for public safety. She also suggested changing sheriff vehicles every few years so they weren’t purchasing them all at one time. She said she calculated the budget with the department’s request + a 3% increase and said the estimate mill rate is 66.263, the 2021 mill rate is 64.931. She said employee benefits was up due to a 5% increase in premiums and budgeting for the cost benefits associated with a raise. She said she was concerned that the revenue wasn’t coming in as projected for the Landfill and said she thought that was due to a decrease in business there. She said she reduced the Appraisers budget to $273,300. Susan discussed Sewer District #1, she said there are a few residents there that have never paid and said she felt like they needed to do a lien against their property. Susan did not have a budget ready for the hospital building or for the ARPA funding. Jim said he didn’t want to increase taxes. Jim said in order to give raises they would either need to increase taxes or cut people. Susan suggested that the Commissioners go ahead and have a hearing to exceed the RNR. The Commissioners will have another budget work session on July 27th at 1:00 pm. Susan said she had budgeted for shared services in the general fund for the business director but it wasn’t in the budget for the shared HR position, she suggested the cost of the HR position be spread across several departments to cover the cost.
The work session ended at 2:15.
THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
OF BOURBON COUNTY, KANSAS
(ss) Jim Harris, Commissioner
(ss) Clifton Beth, Commissioner
Kendell Mason, Bourbon County Clerk
July 27, 2021, Approved Date