Housing and real estate took up the brunt of the Harvey County Commission's brief meeting on Tuesday, as the governing body discussed potential changes to local agreements and heard reports on dealings around the county.

Program authority changing

First among the residential issues taken up was an update from County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber on the continuation of the Section Eight housing voucher program (to assist low-income families, the elderly and the disabled to afford decent, safe and sanitary housing).

While operating under an interlocal agreement with Sedgwick County to administer the program, Swartzendruber noted he was recently approached by the Sedgwick County Housing Authority and informed it was planning to relinquish duties to the Wichita Housing Authority.

Along with this news, the Sedgwick County Housing Authority also presented an agreement to county administration approving the transfer of authority.

It was noted that the change in authority would not lead to any changes in the program, with no changes in the number of vouchers allotted to Harvey County and no fees being charged.

To continue the program for the time being, Swartzendruber noted the commission will likely need to approve the new agreement with the Wichita Housing Authority — which he will present to the commission through a formal resolution next week.

Swartzendruber also informed the commission he is meeting with various parties — including the city of Newton and Newton Housing Authority — to discuss the potential of undertaking authority over this program locally, which would require another transfer process at a later date.

Appraisal/sales ratio reviewed

County Appraiser Craig Clough came before the commission on Tuesday to go over the study done by the state measuring the performance of the county office based on two main factors — the appraisal of the property and the amount the property sells for afterwards.

With a median ratio (comparing appraisal and sale value) of 97.7 and a coefficient of dispersion of 13.6, the county appraiser's office meet the statistical performance standards for total valid market sales (264 in 2016). The study showed similar results in residential sales, but it was the statistics regarding commercial sales that Clough said caused some concern.

In regards to commercial properties, some of the issues that led to the lower median ratio (82.9) may stem from changes of use to various properties, as well as potential cases of underappraising. With a small sample size (only 27 sales in 2016) and the strong overall numbers, though, Clough is not too concerned.

"As a whole, I think we're doing a decent job," Clough said.

Whitetail Crossing restrictions addressed

Regarding the replatting of some land just outside of Hesston (near the intersection of Mission and Dutch roads), Planning and Zoning Director Gina Bell provided the official dedications to the commission on Tuesday.

Of particular note was lot six of the replat. Because of flooding issues, it was deemed that no building may be constructed on that lot. The commission accepted the dedications as presented.

In other business, the county commission:

Was informed that, despite some minor delays, work on the Crosswind runway at the Newton City/County Airport is progressing nicely.
Received a notice with a correction on the location of the digital sign for which there will be an upcoming public hearing in North Newton.
Approved an agreement on the Justice Assistance Grant, with administration to sign. The grant is usually a joint effort between the county and city of Newton and it was noted the grant funds (a projected $11,648) would go towards the purchase of new 800 MHZ radios for the Harvey County Drug Task Force.
Learned that Swartzendruber was asked to represent the Harvey County Economic Development Council on the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce's city-to-city trip Sept. 18 through 20 to Raleigh, North Carolina.
Heard an update on work to NW 36th St., with the Harvey County Road and Bridge Department doing patching last Tuesday as a temporary agreement was arranged between the county and North Newton. Swartzendruber said North Newton has provided drainage and utility information, but the county is awaiting more details on utility right-of-way and how the city wants to proceed with the water tower as the two parties work towards a more permanent resolution regarding ownership of that road.
Was informed that Health Department Director Lynnette Redington is working on an isolation/quarantine response plan and is in talks with Emergency Management and the Harvey County Sheriff's Office. Emergency Management Director Gary Denny also informed the commission of joint efforts with Redington and other community organizations going on in collaboration with Red Cross for a multi-area resource coordinator training — which was pushed back in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Received notice from Director of Finance Dan Bronson that the details regarding the master control panel project at the detention center are being finalized and work should begin in the coming weeks, while negotiations with the U.S. Marshals is in a similar stage.
County Clerk Rick Piepho noted the filing of three candidates for the Little Arkansas River Drainage District: Phil Schmitt, David Friesen and Kevin Williamson.