June 14, 2022 Tuesday 9:00 am
The Bourbon County Commission met in open session with all three Commissioners and the County Clerk present.
Clinton Walker, Rachel Walker, Anne Dare, Matt Crystal, Jacob Bielenberg, Bill Martin, Bob Reed, Ben Cole, Emily Diebolt, Tayton Majors, Rob Harrington, Susan Bancroft, Shane Walker and Matt Quick were present for some or all of the meeting.
Clifton Beth made a motion to approve the minutes from the previous meeting. Lynne seconded. All approved.
Eric Bailey presented a culvert permit for Patrick Wood at 1004 S 230th. The commission is going to check on whether they have to approve each culvert permit. If not, it will be discontinued. Eric gave an update on the composting permit for soybeans. The permit is still on hold. Eric said that the holdup is on their side. We’ve done everything on our side. Eric stated there has been training on the rock crusher. It puts out a lot of rock. We are cleaning up the overburden at Blake’s. We will start asphalting next week in Hiattville. The culvert crew has been working on 215th cleaning out the ditches and getting the tubes in. We had some trees down over the weekend from the storm and are working on cleaning that up. Eric received a call from Iola Post Office. Unity and 62nd Terrace where there is a water plant and a house. There is a lane that goes down there. We’ve checked with Lora and we’ve looked on the GPS maps and that road does not show as a platted road on either map and hasn’t been bladed and they’re unable to get down to the mailboxes. Does anyone know of any agreement in this case? Jim said he didn’t think they ever bladed it. Eric stated he received a call from a councilman from Uniontown from our meeting we had out there, it was their understanding that we were going to lay asphalt for them. I need some guidance. Jim stated that was not his understanding. He said that we would review and see if we could help them or not. Justin said we can’t do that without an interlocal agreement. We can’t compete with private business. Justin stated that there are two more trestle bridges in the county that are becoming a problem. We’ll have to make some big decisions on probably three of them. Eric stated working on the area Lynne mentioned is go on each side of the bridge and put barricades up stating “bridge out” and put a dead end sign. We will be working on correcting this in the very near future. Lynne mentioned that on Unity between 95th and 105th there is an area that washes a trench out every time we get a few inches of rain. I think it might be a ditch problem. Jim asked what Eric needs to be really aggressive with ditching? Jim asked Eric to bring a plan. Jim said it was no reflection on Eric’s operation because we had the same issues when he was in the position.
Ashley Shelton presented fireworks permits that need signed. Clifton made a motion to allow Chairman Harris and Ashley to sign the fireworks permits. Lynne seconded. All approved. Ashley stated there would be one more next week. Ashley spoke on Preservation of Ballots and Election Records per KSA 25-2708 states the records shall be destroyed after 22 months from election. When the ballots are destroyed, I have to have two witnesses, one from each party. I have reached out to Carol MacArthur, chairperson for Democratic party and also reached out to Mark McCoy who is the chairperson of the Republican party who recommended Anne Dare. Those two people have to be appointed by the Board of Commissioners. Clifton made a motion to appoint Carol MacArthur and Anne Dare to witness the 22 month destruction of election material. Lynne seconded. All approved. Ashley stated that there have been complaints from the people that the building at 108 W 2nd. There was work done last year and paid for but it is not completed. Jim asked if there is a check-off process for projects to make sure they are completed prior to payment. Ashley said when we received the invoice and it has been signed, we assume the work is done. Ashley asked if any of the commissioners planned to attend the KAC conference on October 17-19. Jim asked that Ashley make reservations for him. Clifton and Lynne will be attending, also.
Bill Martin stated that over the last 5 years there have been 90 employees go through the jail as correctional officers. In the last week we’ve had four correction officers turn in their resignations. That brings us down to 8 to operate the jail. I’m here to inform the commissioners that I’m shutting the jail down. We’ll be transferring the inmates out until we can figure out what we can do in regards to the employees. We’ve had Facebook posts, job announcements by word of mouth to get people to come in and haven’t gotten one application. This is being done for inmate and correction officer safety. Bobby Reed did everything he could do. Jim mentioned that this is a nation-wide issue. Your situation is not unique. People don’t want to work. Bobby stated that this is a very difficult decision. I have 16 positions that are under my control for correction staff, not including myself, my caption or my secretary. Next Tuesday, I will have 8 of those employees out of 16. Those 8 employees, if they stay, I have been told that another one may be coming; I have another one coming at the end of August. Those 8 employees are staying on because we are not shutting the facility down completely. We are moving all of the inmates out that we can to surrounding areas. I’ve been in contact with several sheriffs throughout SEK as far as Fredonia and we are going to have to keep those 8 people on and figure out some sort of schedule so that when arrests are made they are still going to be booked into our system. They will then be transferred to another county. We still have to have daily operations, depending on the court systems, we are still going to have to get the inmates to court. We will have to go get them from where they are being held to get them there. We will still be responsible for their medical. This morning I have 62 inmates that are ours. Some counties are going to charge us $35.00/day/inmate, some counties will charge $40.00/day/inmate and some will charge $45.00/day/inmate plus medical. Jim asked Bobby what he thought was contributing to the turnover. In the last couple of months, everyone that has resigned has filled out the exit interview paperwork. I ask for details. Several years ago we opened our job pool to hire outside of Bourbon County. I had an employee who left two weeks ago that was driving from El Dorado Springs, MO. He found employment closer to home making more money. Gas prices are also playing a roll. I’ve contacted Cherokee, Crawford, Allen, Linn, Anderson and Miami. Everyone, but Miami and Anderson County start out at $15.00/hr. They are struggling to stay fully staffed. When asked if they would take some of our prisoners they said in an emergency they would but they are trying not to because they are short staffed as well. Miami and Anderson’s starting wage is $17.00/hr. Jim stated that according to records, their budget was increased $48,000.00 for 2022. Bobby said back in 2018 we started out at $10.17/hr. In 2018 we got a $1.50/hr raise that brought us up to $12.17/hr. With the 3% that we got in 2022 that brought the starting wage to $12.50/hr. Bobby stated that even if we brought the starting wage up to $15.00/hr., there is no guarantee it will bring us applicants. Bill asked about the increase for 2022. Jim stated that there was an additional $48,000.00 for the correctional facility and an additional $50,000.00 for Sheriff’s side. When we did the budget last year we tried to address it and tried to help. Bill stated that the report they received from Susan showed we are about 3% below what we should be spending but we’re not familiar with what will happen in the future. We are just finishing the 5th month going into the 6th and overtime is at $32,000.00. Given the pay raise we feel that that is going to be over budget in regards to wages and salaries and we are trying to watch that in regards to what is going on. Bobby and Ben have worked diligently trying to figure out what to do and how to get this going. Law enforcement public safety, when it comes to correctional officers, are just as important. Our hands are tied. We can’t even fill from deputies because it takes away from their time off. Jim stated that when we increased your budget $48,000.00, we were hoping that would bring the salary up enough to make people happy. Bill stated that this is not to make anybody angry, but we’ve had several studies done to show that we are below the minimum pay. We addressed that and they were in double-digit figures. When you give raises in the single-digit figures it’s hard to make that up. We are open for suggestions. We are willing to have a round table discussion at a later time, but right now this is what we are faced with. Bobby said we need to come up with incentives for people to want to stay. We need to pay our people well enough that they can’t afford to look. When there is such a wide salary difference between us and the private sector it’s pretty common sense. With 60 inmates at an average of $40.00/day that’s $2,400.00/day multiplying by 30 days that’s $72,000.00/month. If this is long term, which I hope is not, we have roughly 180 days left in the year. That’s $432,000.00 estimated to pay to other counties depending on our numbers. That doesn’t include medication, fuel and wear and tear on vehicles. Susan asked about food service. Bobby said that we are under contract and he hasn’t reached out to them. Worst case scenario, we have to keep a few of our inmates because we can’t find housing, a bare minimum of maybe under 10. Susan stated that because we are a government entity, contracts can be broken because of budget constraints. Could we reduce the amount of food? Bill stated that we will have to get with the contractor and find out once we get the numbers and negotiate. If we do away with that contract, it will be difficult to find another vendor to come back in due to what is going on. This contractor takes full responsibility for any food allergy reactions. They take that responsibility during lawsuits so we have to negotiate and watch what we do. Bobby stated there are two vendors. One is food service and the other is medical with CHC. Due to some of our inmates going to other facilities that have CHC will have to work something out. If we pull off of that then our costs go up considerably. CHC has saved Bourbon County a lot of money. I would hate to do away with the contract. We are hoping this is short term. Jim stated some of our larger correctional facilities are privately run. Is there any advantage to that? Have you looked at anything like that? Bobby responded that the sheriff has control over the jail, the jail has to set in the county seat. I’m almost 100% certain that the county has to have the jail and it can’t be because if it was that easy every county would do it. Out of 105 counties in Kansas there are 102 jails within Kansas. Three or four are shut down because they are old and only have one or two beds. Most of those that are privately run are like a prison and not a county jail. Those facilities house post-trial or sentenced inmates. Bill stated that a private institution would pay more in wages. That would not be feasible for Bourbon County. Clifton asked how many beds our jail has. Bobby stated 74. This morning there are 69 inmates and 6 of those are Linn County so we would be 61 or 62 inmates. Linn County will take their inmates and house them elsewhere this week. I spoke to the sheriff in Linn County and their facility will not be open for another 2 or 3 weeks and that’s if all goes well. Bill stated that at the end of May we should have spent 41.5% and is setting at 37% which is about 3% less which gives us some cushion for overtime. There is going to be overtime on the sheriff’s side now because we have a deputy that resigned and that position will have to be covered too with the possibility of one or two more leaving. This is not about the sheriff’s office, I’ll handle that. Bobby has worked hard to find ways along with the help of Undersheriff Cole and I believe they have done all they can. Clifton asked how many people Bobby has today. Bobby stated that he has 11 as of today. He has 19 positions, 16 that are assigned to the back that are 6 correction officers, 4 corporals, 4 sergeants and 2 lieutenants that doesn’t include myself, my captain or my business secretary. Bill stated that he knows there will be people in the public that will say that when we built the new jail we increased our staff and that is incorrect. We hired one and that is the transportation officer. Bobby stated I’m not asking for more staff because I can’t fill the positions I have now. Jim asked if they equate so many employees per inmates. Bobby stated no that they would need a lot more staff handle it that way. Bill said there was a study done that stated one correction officer per 8-10 inmates. With the way the jail was designed we could handle the inmates with the current staff. Jim asked if we were going to maintain eight employees could we keep 30% of the inmates. Bobby stated that he doesn’t like to work with less than three employees due to safety or medical issues. Jim asked Susan about the money they are talking about spending where is it coming from? Susan stated at quick glance I can’t tell you. You may have to dip into some sales tax money of which you don’t have a lot built up and if sales tax takes a dip that’s a little bit different. Susan stated that looking at studies with counties with populations similar to ours. Of course, you have to look at assessed valuation, property tax generated but what comes from that is Bourbon County has the lowest assessed valuations in the comparisons and we’re the third highest in mill levy. So, we are poor and are taxing at a high rate. We are second to lowest in what we can generate in property taxes. It’s more about economic development and growth in our community. That is a partnership between lots of entities. Bourbon County Redi, City of Fort Scott, our school districts with everybody coming together and figuring out how we get our assessed valuations up so we can lower our taxes, that’s housing development and industries coming in. Right now we are a poor county when it comes to what we have to fund and the services we provide. I looked at the American city, county government journal and it is a national problem. What is changed, according to the article, is the private sector is offering high compensation, flexibility and rapid career advancement. They are looking for younger workers. They are calling this the great resignation. They’ve never seen anything like this. Turnover is unprecedented. For many the pandemic prompted reflection about what is most important in their lives. Work, it turns out, wasn’t as important as many had thought and people became less willing to center their lives around their job. Further into the article it talked about a shift in worker attitudes. There are five values that could be driving the change. A desire for flexibility across all dimension, work that works for the person, among the young groups they are telling governments to rethink how they’re giving incentives both wage and non-wage incentives to align better with new worker values. We are not just talking about other industries; we are talking about people we are trying to hire. They are saying be open to hiring senior workers. The report that they did said that if we don’t change our approach to hiring and retention the oldest members of gen-x (those born between 1997 and 2012) who are now 25 and the youngest just 10 years old the cohort will be the target hires for the next decade or more and their interests are very different than those of the baby boomers and the gen-xers who now occupy most senior rolls in government. We have to rethink what we’re doing. Jim asked if the sales tax won’t cover it, will we do no-fund warrants? Susan stated that could be a potential. You could have to do some serious budget cuts; you could have to do some reduction in force. This is a very serious conversation. Bobby stated that it costs a lot of money to fight crime and crime don’t care about money. This is a service that every county has to provide but the people that are allegedly committing crimes don’t care if we have an industrial park full of businesses or we have zero. Clifton stated that is what pays our taxes. We don’t have a golden goose that lays eggs to pay for everything. Clifton verified with Bobby that his staff work 12-hour shifts and that is a difficult thing to staff. Hospital systems have spent billions of dollars trying to figure out how to do it effectively and they haven’t figured it out either. Jim asked since we’ve built the new facility, what percent has the crime gone up in Bourbon County? Bill said he could get some numbers for him in a couple of weeks. Before closing out Bill asked if the public comments regarding what they’ve talked about could be asked now as they would be leaving after their presentation. Clint Walker stated he reads various county newspapers and they have sheriff’s report during commission meeting. Why don’t we do that? Bobby said there is a report sent everyday to the newspaper and various other e-mail addresses. Arrests, inmate count and releases are included in the report. There is a website that you can get this information from as well. Jim said that when the jail was built it was highly discussed about the money that was to be made by renting beds. Bobby said he wasn’t going to go down that rabbit hole because it’s a conversation for another day. But, we moved into that jail 6/18/18. When the jail was built we had 40 inmates here and 20 – 25 housed out. So, we built that jail for 74, at the time we had 65. We have 1,100 feet currently at the jail that pods could have been put in but weren’t at that time. Hindsight is 20/20, if we could go back in time, I would bet at that time the cells would have been added in that space to house them, we could have had it paid off in 2 ½ years and we would have 2 ½ years of revenue that could have assisted in our budget for wages. Anne Dare reiterated that it is a national problem and not just a sheriff problem; it is a society problem and the way our society is going. It is going to take faith-based communities; medical communities, sheriff communities, school communities to effectively change the culture of our county. The only thought I had was implementing some type of ROTC type program. Is there anything that could be law enforcement type classes in our high school and junior college to possibly help the education process in order for them to come out ready to be hired. Clifton stated the junior college does have classes. When someone is hired in law enforcement that person is sent to the state academy in Hutchison. While there, he is being paid a salary. Once they graduate, they are certified in the state of Kansas. By statute, once they finish academy, they have to work for that agency for 1 year. Jim asked Bobby if starting salary was $15.00/hr what would happen? Bobby stated he didn’t know. I can only hope it would help. I don’t know if it is a fix-all because other counties paying that amount are having trouble keeping help. The county just south of us is slightly below that but as of the 27th of this month they will be raising it to $15.00/hr. I fear it will cause a snowball effect in raising the starting wage to $15.00/hr then you would have to raise those who’ve been there awhile higher and then that will affect other departments in wanting increases. I think it is a step in the right direction but will cause a snowball effect and there is no guarantee. I’m available for any questions, round table events to come up with a solution to this problem.
Clifton made a motion for executive session KSA 75-4319(b)(2) for consultation with an attorney for the public body or agency which would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship including three commissioners, Justin Meeks, Susan Bancroft for 10 minutes returning at 10:41am. Clifton made a motion to return to normal session at 10:41am with no action. Lynne seconded. All approved.
Clifton made a motion to amend the agenda to add an executive session for Councilor Meeks for attorney client privilege. Clifton made a motion for executive session KSA 75-4319(b)(2) for consultation with an attorney for the public body or agency which would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship including three commissioners, Councilor Meeks for 10 minutes returning at 10:51am. Lynne seconded. All approved. Clifton made a motion to return to normal session with no action. Lynne seconded. All approved.
Clifton made a motion for executive session KSA 75-4319(b)(4) to discuss data relating to financial affairs or trade secrets of corporations, partnerships, trust, and individual proprietorships including three commissioners, Justin Meeks, Rob Harrington and Merrill Atwater for 10 minutes returning at 11:03am. Clifton made a motion to return to normal session at 11:03am with no action. Lynne seconded. All approved.
Susan Bancroft stated the SEK Multi-County Health Dept is doing a community baby shower and our handbook does not allow for solicitation. We can make a donation as a county or can put it out for our employees to see. The Commission gave permission to put it out. Susan stated bank reconciliation for May is complete. There is nothing new, sales tax is up still. We did reconcile. All departments are doing better in getting these done quickly. Jim asked about the difference in the CD’s listed. Susan said she would get with Rhonda and Patty and look into bidding those out again with the interest rates going up. Susan presented information from Juvenile Detention Center as to what they will be charging next year. We’ve always budget $110,000.00 and so that is still within range. Their estimate is $83,655.00. It is based on usage. Susan requested an executive session. Clifton made a motion for executive session KSA 75-4319(b)(1) to discuss personnel matters of individual nonelected personnel to protect their privacy including three commissioners, Susan Bancroft, Shane Walker, and Justin Meeks for 5 minutes returning at 11:14am. Clifton made a motion to return to normal session at 11:14am with no action. Lynne seconded. All approved.
Shane Walker – CIO: No comment
Public Comment: Anne Dare stated she was looking at the May bank reconciliation and wanted to know why we have 1.64million in CD’s. Susan stated they are certificates of deposit and we’ve tied up our cash to get a little more interest on it. It is part of the budget. That protects us from raising taxes. Anne asked about the funding for the Juvenile Detention Center. How many juveniles do they house for Bourbon County for last year? Justin stated that you cannot house juvenile offenders with adults. We looked at another facility but it was full. Anne wants a better breakdown. Anne asked that they take another look at it to see if it is cost effective. Justin said he and Susan would look at it again.
Ashley Shelton stated that Clear Ballot election equipment would be here this afternoon to demonstrate their equipment. Public is welcome.
Commission Comment: Jim assured Anne that they would look at the juvenile detention center again.
At 11:22am Clifton made a motion to adjourn. Lynne seconded. All approved.
THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
OF BOURBON COUNTY, KANSAS
(ss) Jim Harris, Chairman
(ss) Lynne Oharah, Commissioner
Ashley Shelton, Bourbon County Clerk
June 21, 2022, Approved Date