County Commission Meeting – 12/30

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.

9 thoughts on “County Commission Meeting – 12/30”

  1. I know it is hard to not have a raise in 4 years. It hurts the moral and also the pocket book. With everything going up everyday, we all need every penny we can get. People on Social Security have to pay for our Supplemental Insurance and for some , that is almost half of our checks. I know that there is probably not another job in town that has as good a benefits as the county pays. Insurance, 12 days sick leave, and from 2 to 4 weeks vacation time. Elected officials have Insurance paid, unlimited sick and vacation as they are paid by salary, so they draw their checks if they are there or not. County employees have a retirement plan to look forward to when they retire also. How many other employers offer all of this? I find it hard to believe that at a time when jobs are so hard to find, especially with benefits, that Bourbon County has trouble finding people to work. Of course, when 3 good employees are let go “At Will” and makes the front page of the paper , you would think twice before getting into this situation. I think the county offers its employees great benefits and maybe with proper management, they could give raises every year.

    1. Excellent post. In the 5 years I have been looking at the County website and clicking on Job Openings, I don’t remember there be any openings except for the County Jail and while I may have missed a couple, I do not believe that with that one exception, personnel at the County jail, they have a problem filling jobs. No raise in 4 years? Talk to everyone else in town, well, except the city employees! I am guessing the wages are better than most and, well, until recently, I think the job security was enough to retain most of the county employees. Saying the same old same old thing every year? Needs some updating!

  2. “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.”

    So, no plan. Please tell me what we elected them for if it’s their intention to keep the status quo? I guess what they’re telling us now is be prepared for the mill levy increase in 2012…..

    1. Obviously, we are having a problem with people associated with the county being fiscally responsible and we all know the answer for that, Election 2012. Seriously, everyone else, with the exception of the city employees, aren’t getting raises and are paying more for their health insurance IF they are able to continue coverage and we are told that we need to tighten our belts for a tax increase? Time for them to pull their heads out of the sky or from where ever they have them and check out what is happening around them! Budget? Clip, clip, clip!

    2. One of the Commissioners did point out that he thought it hurt them to not have a mill levy increase in the previous year. He felt that people would prefer a small mill levy increase every year instead of a larger one every few years.

      By the way, they are very open to cost cutting suggestions, so I’d encourage you to share any ideas you may have.

      1. Mark: Our income has decreased over the time we have lived here, the last 5 years. Benefits range from none to very limited. Each day I have to decide how to save on something else in order to do things like pay the taxes. Raising the taxes takes money from the local retail and it adds up even when it is just a 1/2 cent here and a few dollars there. The County Commissioners need to familiarize themselves with the operations of the County so that they know where to make cuts and I believe that is their job. The “no sacred cows” deal. The first place to look is the health insurance. Every place I have ever seen over the years has continued to increase the deductibles and employee share of the cost of the policy. Perhaps it would be cost efficient to have an expert take a look at the operation and recommend cuts.

  3. “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.”

    This just confuses me. I am wondering who the list belongs to since the County, we the people, paid over $8,000 for the audit? In addition to people who overpaid, what about those that underpaid will the County collect what is due which is required by LAW of the County Treasurer? IF the information is published? Why wouldn’t it be if it public information? I thought “vilify”? I am thinking that unless it indicated preferential treatment or a sort of exclusive group that I don’t understand why people would “vilify” anyone that had underpaid simply, stress simply, because the County Treasurer miscalculated. And, Mark, thank you and Happy New Year!

  4. Now I know what it feels like to have taxation without representation. I feel like the commissioners have forgotten what they were elected to do.

  5. Does anyone understand why with all of these back taxes pouring in that they need more money? Do they just hold that in a account that doesn’t draw interest while we pay, I saw a 4% note, in order to make purchases? I just really don’t understand because you know they have taken in way more money than they expected to.

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