April 27, 2021 Tuesday 9:00 am
The Bourbon County Commission met in open session with all three Commissioners, the County Counselor and the Deputy County Clerk Doretta Neville present.
Also present were the following, (some were present for a portion of the meeting and some were present for the entire meeting); Anne Dare, Nancy Van Etten, Susan Bancroft, Lora Holdridge and Jason Silvers.
Jim Harris made a motion to approve the minutes from the April 20th Commission meeting, Clifton Beth seconded and all approved and signed the minutes.
Lynne Oharah stated that he received a call from Blake Wilson, Clifton Beth stated he had received a call as well, regarding Jayhawk Road as well as other roads that have been affected when Craw-Kan came in and put the fiber optic in and they were right on the edge of the right of way which has created a pothole scenario. Even the roads that have been fixed are still an issue due to clay. Lynne said we hope the citizens will bear with us as it will take a lot of work to get this resolved. Eric Bailey, Director of Road & Bridge, stated that some of their fiber optic ended up in the road, they didn’t stay the 15’ off center line or 5’ off the edge of the road whichever was greater, they did submit a utility plan but he doesn’t believe it was signed off by commission. He thinks there may have been a verbal to proceed but doesn’t know that there were any signatures on it. Jim Harris stated that he didn’t see it. Eric stated that he didn’t get any of the bond paperwork. Eric has e-mails on this, and said they are working with us on this. They should be done by the end of the month. He will drive the area with Matt Wells, foreman for Bob Hull Inc, the contractor that is working out there, and see what we can come up with. Craw-Kan has been very good to work with. Eric said with all the rain it’s sloppy out there.
Eric reported several culvert permits that have been completed: Clint Hazen, T & C Hunt Club, Larry Shead and Dale Simpson. He said they are under 80 culvert replacements and crossroad tubes.
Eric said 60th & Grand opened last Thursday.
Bridge inspection reports were handed out to commissioners regarding the bridge over BSNF. Eric has had conversations with the Engineer about grants to see what is available. Linn County has gotten some grants, so he will be meeting with Jackie Messer, Linn Co., to see what grants they’ve gotten and what we can do. It was determined to revisit this in a couple of weeks to give Eric time to find grant information.
Eric reported they will continue patching potholes. The County borrowed the city’s mini excavator and are hauling brush from the lake. The County is going to be working with the city on a bad spot near the spillway in the road. There was discussion regarding what part of the road was city and which part is county. Jim Harris stated that Chad Brown showed him a document a couple of years ago that said the city’s property went up to the camping area; Eric will get with Chad regarding this.
Eric received a complaint that stated they had listened to the lake advisory board meeting and it sounded like it was promised that the road would be resurfaced this year on 195th. Jim Harris said that during the road work session a chip and seal could be possible.
Eric stated another grant opportunity for roads would require a Local Road Safety Plan to be done. We haven’t had one done. Bourbon County is one of 33 counties out of 105 that haven’t. There would be a $50,000 cost but the county’s share would be $5,000. There is up to 3 ½ to 4 ½ million dollars available. Jim Harris stated this was the same grant that was used down at the sale barn. Barbara Albright was driving that and received the grant. Eric asked to be able to get the Local Road Safety Plan done so that the county would be eligible for these types of grants. Jim made a motion to allow the Local Road Safety Plan to be done. Clifton seconded and all approved.
Eric had a meeting with CIC regarding implementing computer software programming that we already have. They will be providing training in a couple of weeks. Eric will get a date and time and let everyone know.
Regarding the Jayhawk Wind are and the bridge on 60th between Arrowhead and Birch, Eric said it has been recommended by our engineer to put a speed limit sign of 15 miles per hour over that bridge. He said they had an issue where bridge decking did come loose and said it would take 4 signs, two to reduce the speed and two to return it to standard limit. Jim made a motion to allow Public Works Director to place a 15 mile per hour sign on either side of the bridge. Clifton seconded and all approved. The completion of capping the roads with 4 to 6” of rock is at 90%. Eric said everyone has been very good to work with.
Jim had a conversation with Eric regarding the mowing plan; they have two mowers and two side arm mowers. The bridge truck has a motor issue. They got a quote back from R & R on the blue tractor, they think it is a clutch fan and will be around $3,000 to $4,000 to fix it.
Justin Meeks stated that he and Eric visited with patrons regarding bridge on 35th & Yellowstone Road, he said we started research on it yesterday and found that the road is open and does belong to the county. The bridge was closed in 2012. It is about a 4 ½ mile route around. It’s a beautiful old iron bridge. It was built in 1889. Patrons would like to get the bridge to accommodate ATVs, side-by-sides and foot traffic. It would take a small fortune to get it up to accommodate vehicles. Justin said two options would be to fix it or close 35th down. Justin said maybe we could possibly get grants from the Department of Wildlife because of the area it’s in.
Lynne stated that the Gilmore & Bell Disclosure for Refinance expired in September 2020. We are required by law to do a disclosure every year. Susan Bancroft, Finance Director, stated that anytime you do any kind of lease/purchase agreement, any new debt you issue as a county, you should let Gilmore & Bell know so that they can continue to disclose that because otherwise it could be a material issue. Clifton made a motion to renew the contract with Gilmore & Bell. Jim seconded and all approved. Clifton made a motion for Lynne to sign the contract. Jim seconded and all approved and Lynne signed the contract.
Lynne discussed the mask mandate; the County did a diligent job to protect our employees and fellow citizens while in the Courthouse. One of the biggest items was the liability it created. Things have changed, we’ve been through the process of offering vaccinations against the Corona Virus. We’ve had minimal response to get vaccinations. With us offering vaccines at the county and the medical professional providers, our liability is now non-existent. Because it’s available, people that don’t want the vaccine don’t have to get it but the other side of that is the County no longer has a liability that I can see and I’ve also talked to the County Counselor with moving forward with the mask mandate. Justin suggested that if the mask mandate is lifted it is for the County only and this facility only. If any other entity wants to keep a mask mandate, they have a right to do that. Each person can make their own choice of whether to take the vaccine. You can’t force an employee to take the vaccine. It’s each person’s choice. Jim asked for Clifton’s opinion; Clifton stated he agreed with Justin. It’s a person’s choice whether to wear a mask or not. He did suggest that people keep their circles small. There are still hot spots in the country. Jim stated he spoke with some of the elected officials. Kendell Mason, County Clerk, stated that she would like to see the masks continue. Patty Love, Treasurer, said that she preferred the masks continue but is okay either way. Lora Holdridge doesn’t think they are necessary. Clifton made the motion, applicable to only Bourbon County buildings, excluding 3rd floor, which are under their own mandate, would not be under mask mandate. The rest of the County would fall under State Legislature guidelines. Jim seconded and all approved. Jim made a motion for this action to be immediate. Clifton Beth seconded and all approved.
Justin requested a motion be made to go into executive session.
Clifton made the motion to amend the agenda and go into an executive session KSA 75-4319(b)(1) To discuss personnel matters of individual nonelected personnel to protect their privacy. Subject matter is job performance with possible employment opportunity for individual (the session included 3 Commissioners and Justin Meeks). The Commissioners will meet in another location and reconvene in the Commission room at 9:55am. Jim seconded and all approved. At 9:55am Clifton made motion to come out of executive session and resume the normal meeting. Jim seconded and all approved. Lynne made a motion to have permission to talk to an employee about future employment. Jim seconded all approved.
Lynne Oharah requested a short break from 9:57am to 10:07am.
Elected Official – Bill Martin, called in via phone. The connection was lost. Lynne said that Bill spoke with them at a previous meeting about bringing three vehicles from forfeiture that he wants to add back to the fleet. Lynne asked for insurance costs to add these vehicles back in and he can get that information to Kendell’s office.
Justin stated that the tax sale will wait two more weeks. The abstract company is working diligently and they are very busy which is a good thing. He said we have around 400 parcels total. If we can get 150 to 175, we might have a second sale in November or December. We were hoping for June for the first one but with the housing market “on fire” it is delaying the abstracts. We would rather have the person who has bought a home to be first in line instead of the tax sale. We don’t want to put any pressure on the abstract company. There are people redeeming which is good. The collections rate is good and we will hopefully be at $300,000 pre-sale which is a big deal. Justin said hopefully we will keep up with the trend and keep collecting back taxes.
Justin also stated that Mr. Coon contacted him a month ago regarding a lot on Wall Street; Justin said he wants to start building spec homes, smaller square footage wise but will be perfect for our demographic in our community. There was a special on that property with the City and the City did the right thing and waived the special tear-down fee. The tear down fee was around $7,000 to $8,000. He’s paid back taxes on the property and he is going to use Clint’s office with the NRP program. If there are some taxes in the future, we might want to think about waiving taxes at the County level to help spur residential and even commercials on some level. Mr. Coons stated that he has owned this property for many years, but due to bad city management that left a bad taste in his mouth and just said there you go. There is a lot of new energy in the City right now as there is in the County and I like that. My wife and I decided to invest a little bit, but we have to have some incentives. The city has given me a waiver for $7,200. My plans are to build 4 additional homes in 2021 and 2022. There is a 5-year tax abatement for new building. Lynne clarified that it is a tax refund and not abatement. Mr. Coon said the City tears houses down and then it has no taxable value and if there were incentives for investors for new construction that would be helpful. Justin stated that the NRP program is available. An incentive for economic development that happens for a builder that wants to do residential development like Mr. Coon’s is talking about. The County has moved toward the BEDCO model where you have an economic source to go to. The Landbank would be a big part of this where someone could come in and get lots for next to nothing or free and not having back taxes and having a clear title. It can cost $1,800 to $2,500 to get a clear title. We have to do things on our end to get him the help he needs and we aren’t there yet. Mr. Coon’s is currently seeking a grant.
Susan Bancroft, Finance Director, the last meeting we talked about going out for bid on Property/Casualty, WC and Health Insurance Benefits. She recommended that the County look at a broker, consultant or advisor that is non-biased that helps you through this process or we can try to do it ourselves. The problem is when you try to compare apples to apples you don’t always get that when you’re doing these types of bids. I’m recommending an advisor to help through this process. Lynne stated that he feels the County has very good benefits and we need to compare apples to apples. Clifton stated that he wasn’t comfortable with getting a broker/consultant/advisor as he didn’t feel they would be fair as there would be a commission at stake. Clifton suggested a consultant be brought in once the quotes were received. All Commissioners agreed. Lynne stated that we should look at what it is going to take to have a consultant look at the quotes prior to presenting them to the Commission.
Anne Dare was scheduled for comment but had not received all the information she needed.
Public comment: Clint Walker stated that the county has done ok with the mask mandate. The Commissioners have allowed each entity to enforce their own mandate. Also, regarding healthcare, we want young people to move here and yet if they want to have a child they will have to go to Nevada, Allen County or down to Pittsburg. Allen County is talking about expanding and Chanute got a grant for $2,000,000 to expand. My brother is a medical doctor in a town half the size of Fort Scott and has a hospital. What is wrong with this picture?
Lynne stated the hospital pulled out because they were not making any money. The Dialysis Center went out because they weren’t making money. You have to make money to keep an operation going, even though a lot of them are heavily subsidized.
Jim stated that he read in Fort Scott Biz that Via Christi is not moving with CHC and hopes they will make their plans known soon. We need an emergency room. Clifton stated that hospitals make very little money. They are a private business and if they are losing money they are going to shut down. If we as a County want to subsidize that to the tune of about $5,000,000 per year, we can do that for a hospital. Regarding an ER, there has to be a standing hospital within 35 miles to operate an emergency room. Via Christi is it. As far as Via Christi and CHC that’s between them. They are private businesses.
Justin stated that we are very grateful for CHC and Via Christi being in our community. We may have to think about subsidizing an ER. Without it we won’t be a normal community. An ER is vital. If it comes with a $1,000,000 per year price tag it may be something we have to look at.
At 10:50 Jim Harris made a motion to adjourn. Clifton seconded and all approved.
THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
OF BOURBON COUNTY, KANSAS
(ss) Lynne Oharah, Chairman
(ss) Jim Harris, Commissioner
(ss) Clifton Beth, Commissioner
Kendell Mason, Bourbon County Clerk
May 4, 2021, Approved Date