Search Entire Site

Sign up here for the Code Red Emergency Warning System for Bourbon County

July 7, 2020 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, some were present for the entire meeting), Jason Silvers with the Fort Scott Tribune, Sparky Schroeder, Dale Arnold, Mary Pemberton, Anne Dare, Mr. & Mrs. Clint Walker, Nancy Van Etten, Hazel Swartz, Jim Harris and Vance Eden.

Jeff made a motion to go into a 5 minute executive session for matters relating to the security of a public body or agency, public building or facility or the information system of a public body or agency, if the discussion of such matters at an open meeting would jeopardize the security of such public body, agency, building, facility or information system, Nick seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners and Justin Meeks). No action was taken.

Jeff discussed the Governors recommendation of wearing masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19; Bourbon County has been a member of the Multi-County Health Department and is under a contract to use their services. He read a letter from Dr. Becky Watson – the Medical Director over the SEK Multi-County Health Department, she said that masks were the best protection we have to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and said that if masks aren’t worn and the disease spreads further then the next measure could be another lockdown. Jeff asked Justin Meeks to give a copy of the letter from Dr. Watson to the audience. Lynne stated that Law enforcement has stated that they won’t enforce the mask wearing order; Mary Pemberton said a number of people are not wearing masks and questioned how to enforce the requirement to wear masks. A lengthy conversation took place regarding the COVID-19 cases, masks and preventing the spread of the disease. Nancy Van Etten has worked closely with COVID-19; she said there is a lot of fear and not really understanding how the disease would affect them and others, she said wearing masks does help and it is something that we can do to help keep businesses open and hopefully go back to school. Lynne said that the Health Board issued a directive to quarantine if tested positive and said the County Attorney said she would enforce the directive. Lynne stated that the County policy was that if an employee had a fever they needed to get tested and couldn’t come back to work until they had a negative test; Kendell later said the policy was for them to contact the Health Department and follow their guidelines.

Jerad Heckman with Road & Bridge said they patched the bridge on 235th north of Valley Road. They will do the prep work for KOA road Friday and plan to start working there next week. They are hauling gravel and chips; they have a couple of grader operators mowing around the County. They worked on drainage on Indian Road; Nancy Van Etten questioned if they were going to fix the drainage issue at Hackberry and 195th, Jerad said yes they would address this.

The Commissioners continued the COPS grant discussion that started on June 30th; Lynne said at the last meeting the Sheriff told them they are following the national trend of defunding the police, Lynne said the data doesn’t support that. Lynne read the Sheriff’s budget trend… in 2013 the Sheriff budget was $582,583 the actual amount spent was $472,623, in 2014 the Sheriff budget was $543,355 and the actual amount spent was $477,989, in 2015 the budget was $574,780 and the actual amount spent was $585,512, in 2016 the budget was $579,788 and the actual amount spent was $653,626. In 2017 the Sheriff presented options on the budget requests- he requested $672,631 or $678,338 and was awarded a budget of $589,872. In 2018 the requested options were $685,947, $703,039, $711,379 or $731,044 and were approved for $724,000 (raises were given this year). Jeff said that raises were allocated to help address a retention problem and to help avoid the cost of employee turnover, Jeff said they used data collected from salary studies that Bill Martin had provided. Lynne said Bourbon County wages were lower than other entities for both hourly and elected officials. In 2019 the Sheriff presented options of $908,488, $978,064, $995,525 or $1,016,480 and they were approved for $745,765 that budget was later amended and they spent $800,405. In 2020 they presented options of $837,449 or $893,702 and were approved for $800,239. Lynne said the trend has always been that their budget was increased, (Lynne said their budgets do not include the cost of employee benefits). Lynne said he previously had received a phone call stating that Bourbon County had received a grant from COPS for an officer for USD 235, Lynne said they requested he sign the grant, but Lynne said he couldn’t sign the grant until the Commissioners voted on accepting the grant. Lynne said he called the COPS grant response center and told them that in January the Courthouse had a position for courthouse security and the Commissioners and Judge Ward were informed that the position had been reassigned as a school resource officer for USD 235 and they weren’t going to do courthouse security any longer. The Commissioners at that time had to approve a position for courthouse security. Lynne asked the response center if the County could vacate the school resource officer and put the employee under the grant, the response center said no, the County would have to create another school resource officer for USD235; Vance Eden stated that they do not have a school resource officer for USD235 district, he said at times they have a deputy for 15 minutes to 1 hour a day. Lynne said the County couldn’t eliminate the position created when they moved Courthouse security person to the school resource position, the grant could be used to hire a new officer after the award start date. Lynne said if the Commissioners approve the grant it would mean additional staff. Vance said there may be a chance that the district could pay a portion of the salary for a school resource officer for USD235. Bill Martin, Ben Cole and Lesley Herrin arrived for the discussion; Bill questioned why he wasn’t given notice of the discussion of the COPS grant, he said he knew it was on the agenda, but felt he should have been invited to the discussion so he could answer any questions. Lynne said they had stated last week that they would discuss it again at the next commission meeting. Bill discussed the realignment of the deputy that had been assigned to Courthouse security, he said he pulled the position and assigned them to the school resource officer pending USD235 and the Commissioners if they didn’t get the grant. He said if the grant wasn’t approved he would go back to the school board for an agreement regarding the SRO. He said he has been budgeted for 9 deputies and the grant would open up for another position to 10 deputies (he said the 10th employee would be the school resource officer if approved). The grant if approved would be good for three years, it was discussed what would happen with the position after that 3rd year. Vance Eden stated having a school resource officer would mean 3 years of better service for the safety of the staff and students. Vance suggested that when the grant expires that they don’t rehire for the position or USD235 might be able to go into an agreement with the County Commissioners to keep the SRO (he said this hasn’t been approved and he wasn’t able to make this decision); he said what was important was the kids and faculty at Uniontown. Vance said there are a lot of situations where having a SRO would be of value for the district. Lynne said since 2015 the Sheriff has added 3 staff members, Bill said one of the positions was paid for through a COPS grant. Jeff questioned the training required for a SRO; Bill said it online training and training for one week would be required, Bill said they would hire someone who was already certified, Ben Cole said they wouldn’t hire someone without training and experience. Jeff questioned the funding for the SRO for USD234; Justin Meeks said that position was funded by the City of Fort Scott. The $118,000 grant is good for three years and the County portion for the 3 years is $39,000. Vance felt the grant gives them the best opportunity to add the SRO position. Bill said if the County turned down the grant it could be a red mark against the County for future grants. Nick made a motion to sign the COPS grant and give Lynne permission to sign the grant, Jeff seconded, Jeff said he understood this was an important decision and said during a crisis it could be a terrible situation without a SRO, he said they were not addressing USD234 at this point, all approved the motion. Lynne later stated that adding the SRO would eventually cost the taxpayers $80,000 annually.

David Neville addressed the Commissioners regarding the a/c on the 2nd floor of the Courthouse; he said it’s broken and would take approximately 2 months to get the parts, he said they are using portable units and fans but it is still warm in those offices. David felt they needed a backup unit, the Commissioners said a backup unit could possibly also be used in the data center. Jeff made a motion to authorize David to move forward with a backup cooling unit for 2nd floor, Nick seconded and all approved.

Sparky Schroeder asked the Commissioners if they had signed any agreements on the Mercy facility; the Commissioners said no. Lynne said they couldn’t move forward until they had a contract with the healthcare providers. Sparky asked if there were any restrictions on the title; the Commissioners said there would be restrictions. Sparky said Jody Hoener previously projected 73% occupancy by 2023, he questioned how it would be funded until then; the Commissioners said the $1 million donation from Mercy would help fill the $23,000 monthly shortfall. The roof of the building was discussed; the Commissioners said a portion of the roof needed replaced and estimated it to cost approximately $250,000. Sparky questioned if it didn’t work what the backup plan was; Jeff said if the building had to be torn down, Jim Harris previously stated that the building could be dumped in the Landfill for free, but said there would be a cost to tear it down. The tenants will be responsible for any renovations that they do.

Appraiser Clint Anderson presented his 2021 budget request to the Commissioners; he requested $284,185.

Treasurer Patty Love presented her 2021 budget request to the Commissioner; she requested $117,560. She requested a $1/hour raise for her current employees; she said she has reduced her staff by one employee and the other employees have to do extra work. Patty said she asked for a raise for her employees in 2020, but said the Commissioners gave the elected officials a raise instead.

Lynne made a motion to go into a 5 minute executive session for personnel matters of individual non-elected personnel, Jeff seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners and Justin Meeks). After the session, Lynne made a motion to have Herb Hall continue to do the door monitoring until the COVID-19 virus is over, and said they weren’t going to hire a part time employee for this position, Nick seconded and all approved.

Lynne made a motion to go into a 7 minute executive session for consultation with an attorney for the body or agency which would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship, Jeff seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners and Justin Meeks). No action was taken.

Lynne made a motion that due to the Clerk using the Commission room for election (due to COVID-19) there would not be a Commission meeting on July 21, July 28 or August 4th, the Commissioners will call a special meeting if needed, Jeff seconded and all approved.

Lynne said that Shane Walker had informed him that the meetings could be televised for $50/meeting.

The Commissioners plan to have a budget work session on July 14th beginning at 1:30. The Commissioners plan to review the 2021 budget on July 20th at 1:30 on the 1st floor lobby; the public can attend the meeting.

Jeff made a motion to allow Lynne to have a conversation with Justin and if need be a special meeting will be called, Lynne seconded and all approved.

At 12:23, Nick made a motion to adjourn, Jeff seconded and all approved.

(ss) Lynne Oharah, Chairman
(ss) Jeff Fischer, Commissioner
(ss) Nick Ruhl, Commissioner

Kendell Mason, Bourbon County Clerk
July 14, 2020, Approved Date