As the Harvey County Commission looked to finalize its 2018 budget on Monday, some new information was brought forward for the governing body to take under consideration.
County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber notified the commission of one change with minimal impact, stating that after discussion with the Parks Department there was a minor shift in capital improvement plans. Looking over the department's request for a mini-excavator, it was determined by staff that an attachment could be purchased for its skid steer loader to fill that need at a lower cost.
Estimates for the attachment led to a budgeting amendment from $50,000 to $20,000, with Swartzendruber noting that the cost savings could then be placed into the equipment reserve or capital improvement fund for other requests from the parks department — or a different department, potentially. Just what any additional requests may be is something Swartzendruber said will likely be prioritized after a vote on the Camp Hawk issue this fall.
In addition to that minor adjustment, the commission also looked at measures currently under consideration by the City of Newton regarding special events fees and how that might impact a funding request made by the Harvey County Fair Board, with board president Mike Riffel speaking at Monday's meeting.
The commission received the fair board's 2018 budget request nearly two months ago, but readdressed a potential short-term adjustment with Riffel given what a special events fee would do to costs associated with the fair — with estimates presented at a forum hosted by the city last week projecting $1,663 in costs for the Harvey County Fair (for crowd control fence, utilities, barricades, an escort for the parade and standby Fire/EMS services).
Riffel attended that meeting and raised questions about the fair organization taking on some of those responsibilities (i.e. placing crowd control fencing) without receiving a definite answer. Also discussed was how event organizers could defray additional costs by passing them on to vendors, attendees, etc. For Riffel, the idea of bypassing any fees by moving the fair to another Harvey County location was brought up as an alternative as he noted his opposition to some of those other options.
"It's (the) Harvey County Free Fair. We really don't want to have to charge," Riffel said.
Concerns were bountiful among county commissioners regarding the proposed special events fees, but as commissioner Randy Hague noted the business at hand for the county was how to address its potential effect on the Harvey County Fair. Given that the money for the fair board is an allocation, and said expenses are not yet concrete, Swartzendruber noted it is an issue that could easily be remedied in the future if need be.
"We know it's an issue, but we don't know the exact amount," Swartzendruber said. "If the commission's willing to consider a request for additional money next year, then we're talking about a very small amount of money."
"At this point, I think we have to wait and see what's going to happen," said commission chair Ron Krehbiel.
Following the adjustment regarding the parks department, the commission set the 2018 budget at $26,534,979, with a maximum of $12,462,530 to be received in ad valorem tax value (equating to an overall mill levy increase of .53 mills).
In other business, the county commission:
Received a report on a recent meeting of the Regional Economic Area Partnership of South Central Kansas regarding a survey of membership as the organization assembles a committee to put together an action plan.
Was notified of a stakeholders meeting from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Pine Street health services building regarding the transportation aspect of the community health improvement plan.
Heard an update on efforts to "extend the contours" to make room for more C&D waste at the county landfill, with Solid Waste Superintendent Rollin Schmidt noting plans are being submitted to the state and he is confident they will be approved. He also presented statistics showing growth in said waste over the last three years to illustrate the necessity of the expansion work.
Approved a request for the county to send a letter of support on behalf of SafeHope with its application for community service tax credits to help expand emergency shelter in the community.
Was notified that the house at West Park will be vacated this month and the county will advertise the property as it has in the past and continue to rent it out.
Received information on the history of road striping work dating back to 2012, with contracted work pursued after a cost analysis. Additionally, 2012 was the last year there was more than one bidder for said work, with Midwest Striping being utilized by the county since 2014 and the commission giving Road and Bridge the green light to move forward with a proposal for work this year.
Learned of grants recently received by the Health Department, including the Blue Cross Blue Shield pathways grant that will bring in $500,000 in funding over the next three years to help with staffing for the Healthy Harvey initiative. Director Lynnette Redington noted the department also received joint funding for health equity with Peace Connections and $25,000 with Mirror Inc. to start the drug-free youth coalition.
Accepted a five-year management plan for the Central Kansas Regional Solid Waste Authority, with Schmidt noting no changes for Harvey County.
Heard from Emergency Management Director Gary Denny on movement into the next phase of activity stemming from the active shooter focus group, with tabletop exercises beginning with the various disciplines (health care, government, schools, etc.) starting this week.
Received a request from Sedgwick Township trustee Daniel Andrew to reclassify three roads as minimum maintenance roads, as there has been minimal work on them throughout the years. Currently, there are no houses on the roads and the request stems from an ease of access issue for local farmers. With tax dollars being shorted for townships, commissioners expect more such requests could be heard and discussed having a procedure in place. It was noted this would be the start of the process to reclassify the road in question, which the commission accepted and allowed to move forward.
Approved a tax abatement for disaster relief regarding property at 3825 N. Sand Hill Road for a structure destroyed in the 2016 Burrton wild fire.
Approved a bid with APAC for an ultra-thin bonded asphalt surfacing project on S. Kansas Avenue from the Newton city limits to 125th Street. The project was pursued given leftover funds from some other Road and Bridge resurfacing projects this season. The total cost of the work (including two alternate additions from 125th and 72nd streets to the Interstate) will be $534,990, with the bid from APAC being the lowest of two received.
Decided not to move forward with plans to install an archery range at East Park at this time given insurance concerns, among other issues.
Heard a report on improvement plans for the Law Enforcement Center moving forward after action taken by the City of Newton's police facilities task force. Though Swartzendruber noted the costs linked to the project are rough estimates at this time, and the county's share is uncertain, commissioners gave their support — with joint discussion between the city and county the next target in proceeding with the improvement plans.