May 11, 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, Susan Bancroft, Mr. & Mrs. Clint Walker, Scott Shelton, Anne Dare, Mark McCoy, Nancy Van Etten, Sparky Schroeder, Michael Hoyt, June Bloomfield and Heather Ethridge.
Clifton made a motion to approve the minutes from the previous Commission meeting, Jim seconded and all approved and signed the minutes.
Eric said the wood-top bridge on Victory between 265th & 267th had failed; he said he is doing a study to get a cost to repair the bridge.
Eric said they are removing the overburden at the Blake Quarry.
Eric said they had the yearly inspection at the Landfill and are waiting on this report to come back.
Eric said KDOT reviewed (audited) a bridge to make sure the results were the same as the annual bridge inspection.
Eric said grader #36 (a 2010 with 8,924 hours) has metal shavings in the transmission fluid; it’s estimated to cost $32,000 to repair. Eric said there is some money in the special machinery fund, but said there are other expenses that will come out of this fund. Susan Bancroft said she would present debt service numbers to the Commissioners soon. Eric reported that there are two other 2010 graders with 14,300 & 12,742 hours. The Commissioners will discuss the grader at a later date.
Eric said they have a bridge truck with a bad motor; he had two possible replacement options; one for $23,500 & one for $27,500. Jim made a motion to give Eric permission to view the 2013 International for $23,500 and if Eric likes it to buy it, Clifton seconded and all approved.
Jayhawk Wind update: Eric said the capping of the roads has been completed. He said they will continue to maintain the roads in the area and are putting in cross tubes. Eric said they did repairs on 20th Street between 39 Highway and Eagle.
Jim told Eric he did a good job getting data for T&C Wildlife.
Lynne asked Eric if he had reviewed the traffic report for Fern Road; Eric said he wasn’t sure if this involved Jayhawk Wind or others doing work in this area.
Eric said crushing is going well and said they are hauling chips to the asphalt plant.
BNSF Bridge overview (located on old 69 Highway); Lynne said he had talked to Will Wallis and was told it had been signed off on for a disaster payout of $120,000 and said Eric is looking at State grants for bridges. Lynne said because of this money it was probable that the County would have the money available for the matching 80/20 grant funds. Jim said the 80/20 grant is for bridges only and will not include other expenses such as inspections, railroad expenses. Clifton said the public needed to know this bridge was a fracture critical bridge and said it is in bad shape. Justin said he and Susan can help Eric with the bridge and the grant process. Clifton made a motion to allow Eric to start the process for BNSF bridge #RS518 regarding grants, Jim seconded and all approved.
Justin Meeks said if people request signs be placed in the County (kids at play, school) then Eric would meet with the Commissioners about installing the signs.
Lynne discussed refinancing the sewer district bonds; he said this would result in lower interest, the payments wouldn’t increase, a shorter debt time frame and approximately $60,220 in savings. Lynne questioned if they wanted to move forward with refinancing the bonds; Susan said she felt they should move forward due to the savings, but said some people might be delinquent on their sewer district payments and said liens might have to be placed on their property. Lynne made a motion to move forward with the bond refinancing, Clifton seconded and all approved. Susan will notify Greg Vahrenberg of the plan to move forward.
Jim made a motion to allow Kendell Mason to sign the request to rescind call for redemption for the 2012A & 2012B bonds, Clifton seconded and all approved.
Jim made a motion to appoint Clifton Beth to the Community Corrections Advisory Board, Lynne seconded and all approved.
Scott Shelton met with the Commissioners; he had previously met with them about variances for the installation of septic systems at the housing addition near Redfield. He presented the Commissioners with a site map with property lines outlined of the homeowners there. He said he had talked to two different people with KDHE and said they both said that given the situation a septic tank would be the best solution for the problem as long as the local officials are ok with this. Justin Meeks said that variances for lots 2,4 & 5 would be necessary since they are less than an acre, but said 1,6 & 7 were easily an acre. Justin said this problem is an issue between Redfield City and the housing addition. Scott said a septic tank contractor said that a septic tank is possible for lots 7,1 & 3; Scott questioned if you could make a system fit in the space provided, why not allow it? Jim Harris questioned if the residents there had considered a lagoon system; Scott said this had been discussed. Justin said if the Commissioners wanted to do a variance for a property that is .6 of an acre, he would need to make some phone calls, since they would be taking the minimum of one acre and cutting it 40%. Scott said they were trying to make this work with the space they had available; and said some homeowners there may not participate in the septic tanks. Lynne said there are County regulations and said the homeowners had every right to put in a request for a septic tank and said this would go through the environmental department and then if there was a variance needed it would go to the Commissioners.
Anne Dare met with the Commissioners regarding the bike trails; she said that the Bourbon County Coalition had met on 5/5/2021 and reported that the bike trail signs had been received and would be placed between Fort Scott and Iola for the ABC Trails (Prairie Pathways). Anne questioned the cost to install the trails, questioned who had ok’d the trails, asked if safety studies had been done, questioned who would pay for the road improvements, discussed the condition (narrowness of the road) of old 54 Highway and questioned the liability for the trails. Shane Walker is on the board for the bike trails and told Anne that the PEDNET study was done to show where things could be built, but said the only thing being done is that signs were going up to tie into the 76-bike route and said they were doing this to raise awareness of the bikes on the trails. Susan Bancroft said there is a PEDNET plan within the city limits of Fort Scott. Shane said the signs were done to try and make it safer for people on bikes, he said public meetings were held about this.
Elected official comment: Bill Martin and Bobby Reed met with the Commissioners; Bill said they have had concerns for several years now; he said one employee is considering leaving employment due to pay and said one employee is working part time elsewhere in addition to his department. Bill said he was afraid the County would lose a trained employee(s) for a job that would pay more. Bill suggested having a work session to help educate the community. Bobby said he has two positions that aren’t filled and said they can’t get people to apply. He said other employers are upping the starting wage to get employees and questioned why the County couldn’t give incentives to stay. Bobby said he had one employee leaving employment and one interviewing elsewhere for more money. Bobby discussed the County wage resolution and said that everyone in the same position makes the same wage. He said they would continue to lose employees for people going elsewhere for more pay and said the Commissioners were the only ones that could fix this. Jim questioned if either of them had considered a step system for wages; they were told to present this to the Commissioners and work with Susan regarding their budgets and wages. Bobby said his department has a step system, but said the bottom line was that a correctional officer starts out at $12.14/hour vs. public works at $12.99/hour. Bobby said it seemed harder for offices that are out of the scope of the Commissioners to get things done; Lynne said they had worked with the Attorney’s office when they re-did the pay schedules there. Bill questioned where the money would come from for raises. He said lack of supervision and training are the top two issues for lawsuits. Bill suggested offering extra pay incentives for extra training and certification. Lynne said to work with Susan during the budget process. Susan said the County could never be able to compete with the public sector, but said they needed to consider the benefits here, she said the “benefits here are rich”. Susan said that wage bands take a lot more planning, she said they are waiting on the audit to be done and then will start building budgets. Bobby said if we have a valued employee that we have invested training and time in we should do something to retain the employee so we don’t loose them. Bobby discussed a secretary at the Courthouse making $2/hour more than his secretary. Lynne said when Jim Harris presented pay levels (bands), he showed where they could save in order to do this; Lynne said they have given people raises if they give them more work, but said he didn’t hear any talk about more work for their employees. Lynne said they gave a person a raise due to more work; Bobby questioned why the additional work wasn’t offered elsewhere, Lynne said if was offered to others in the Courthouse. Susan said wage bands are offered when people obtain more education or advance to a different job, she said she felt every position should be evaluated. Bill said his opinion was that our benefits weren’t that great. Clifton said not everyone is worth the same pay and said he didn’t know what Bobby’s secretary did or the qualifications and felt that Bill should set the wage scale for his department. Bill said the majority of corporate businesses give raises every few years; he said the prior Commissioners gave him a pay raise to $60,000; he suggested reducing his salary back down to give the money to his employees.
Justin Meeks said the County did not have a noise ordinance and said since we didn’t have one, it would be hard to enforce any problems with loud noises in the County.
Justin said he was doing research and working on a cemetery issue; he said Susan will review the budgets for this cemetery.
Justin said a KORA request would be coming to the County regarding an election issue from the 1980’s; he said this would deal with some city issues.
Tax Sale – Justin said the County would have two tax sales in 2021; he said he is getting some certified mail back and said some people are paying back taxes.
Lynne made a motion to go into a 10-minute executive session for KSA 75-4319(b) (2) for consultation with an attorney for the body or agency which would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship with possible litigation, the Commissioners will meet in another location and reconvene in the Commission room at 10:44, Jim seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners and Justin Meeks). At 10:44 Clifton made a motion to resume the normal meeting, Jim seconded and all approved. Lynne made a motion to allow Clifton to call an individual familiar with the BWERKS operation, Jim seconded and all approved.
Clifton made a motion to go into a 7-minute executive session for KSA 75-4319(b) (1) to discuss personnel matters of individual non-elected personnel to protect their privacy regarding an administrative issue and a job function, the Commissioners will meet in another location and reconvene in the Commission room at 10:52, Jim seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners, Susan Bancroft and Justin Meeks). At 10:54, Clifton made a motion to resume the Commission meeting and said there was no action, Jim seconded and all approved.
Lynne introduced the new BEDCO Economic Development Director Rob Herrington; his office is on the 2nd floor of the Landmark Bank. Rob said he was looking forward to working with the City, the County and the businesses and hoped to grow Bourbon County and better the County.
Jim made a motion to amend the agenda to allow Eric Bailey to talk about a truck, Clifton seconded and all approved. Eric said that the Special Bridge department had budgeted for a truck and said he had found a 2007 dump truck with 30,000 miles on it for $30,000. Clifton made a motion to allow Eric to look at this truck and purchase it for up to $30,000 with the budgeted money, Jim seconded and all approved.
Susan Bancroft met with the Commissioners; she discussed SB13/HB 2104. She said the tax lid was removed from legislature and said there are new ways to do the budget. She said whatever was levied last year is what you can budget for this year, unless you have a special hearing (the tax rate hearing is a hearing to exceed the revenue neutral rate (RNR)) – she said you can’t exceed or there will be penalties. She said October 1 would be the certification date if exceeding the RNR. She said that public safety is no longer an exception to the revenue neutral rate.
Public Comment: Sparky Schroeder said he heard the Commissioners were looking at County zoning; the Commissioners said they had a preliminary discussion about this, Sparky asked if this would be voted on, the Commissioners said yes. Sparky asked if this zoning would only apply to the County; Lynne said this would only be the County. Sparky said when he went door-to-door he heard two issues from the voters: zoning and joining the City and County together. He suggested being fair with the property owners and their property rights. He said if zoning is implemented then the cost of government will get extremely high. He said he didn’t believe in zoning. He discussed the 30×30 plan and said the government wants control of 30% of the land by 2030 and control of 50% by 2050. He compared the Kansas tax rate to other states. He said it is easier to fix a problem if you come with a solution and said more people need to get involved and work together and not against.
Michael Hoyt said he a had counted 5 issues that a well-organized citizens advisory board could help with if they were involved in the correct way. Jim Harris agreed.
Clint Walker commended public works for a culvert that was installed; he said this will keep the gravel from being washed away and will save money. He said that Linn County was having the same issues retaining public work employees.
Jim Harris suggested when doing the annual budgets that they hear from the public on what their needs are.
Clifton made a motion to amend the agenda to add an executive session, Jim seconded and all approved.
Clifton made a motion to go into a 7-minute executive session for KSA 75-4319(b) (2) for consultation with an attorney for the body or agency which would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship with possible litigation, the Commissioners will meet in another location and reconvene in the Commission room at 11:33, Jim seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners and Justin Meeks). At 11:34, Lynne made a motion to return to the meeting, Clifton seconded and all approved. Justin asked that Lynne be able to sign a release for the BWERKS property. Jim suggested inspecting the property before and after they move it; Justin said that Susan had looked at the property and said one piece of property has already been damaged. Jim made a motion to allow Lynne to review and add information to the release agreement and to sign the agreement to recover the property belonging to BWERKS and to inspect prior to and after the move, Lynne seconded, Jim and Lynne both voted yes on this issue and Clifton voted no. Clifton said this is County property and said we shouldn’t have to sign a release to get our property back, he said this is an abuse of power and abuse of the law. Lynne said they needed to expedite the process and get the property back; he said the County is responsible for BWERKS until 12/31/2021. Jim made an additional motion to get Susan, Shane and Lynne involved in the move and to inspect the property, Lynne seconded and all approved.
Commissioners Comment: Clifton said regarding 30×30; vote for your Federal elected officials. Anne questioned if there was a way to put something in place to protect property rights would you look at it; Clifton said yes. Clifton said he wasn’t sold on citizens advisory boards, but said if someone wants to start one, they can. Michael Hoyt suggested the Commissioners pick a topic and then select people to focus on this topic. Anne said only a few had shown an interest in the advisory boards.
Clifton said he should have an update on healthcare in the next few weeks.
At 11:44, Jim 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 18, 2021, Approved Date