With plans to expand its social media presence in the near future, including the addition of official Harvey County accounts, county administration recently drafted a policy to address appropriate behavior on said outlets (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.).

Public information officer Kyle McCaskey reviewed the policies of six other counties and went over the planned policy for Harvey County with County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber and Assistant County Administrator Dan Bronson before bringing it before the county commission on Monday — with administration viewing it as best practice for organizations using social media.

"This policy really outlines how we want social media to be utilized within our organization," Swartzendruber said.

Along with setting some guidelines for both external (personal accounts) and internal (departmental accounts) use, the policy is also meant to foster a positive atmosphere among the county's social media outlets — allowing for ideas to be shared between departments and throughout the Harvey County community.

"We see social media as an opportunity to really engage a wider group of people in county government, and also provide education and to open up transparency for the organization," Swartzendruber said.

Not all citizens may be willing to sit through a public hearing, but Swartzendruber noted social media will gave the county a chance to inform and enhance relations with more citizens.

Guidelines listed in the policy include items that treat it like the county's computer or similar policies, limiting internal use to those employees who have agreed to the policy, while it also makes the PIO (McCaskey) co-administrator of any county social media accounts, as well as making violation of the policy subject to disciplinary action. Additionally, it lines out reasons for which public and/or employee comments may be removed from said accounts (i.e. profanity, defamation or personal attacks, discriminatory content, etc.) — as well as lining out procedures for how to handle such scenarios.

Commissioners questioned how the policy — particularly the removal of comments — would relate to constitutional first amendment rights, with Swartzendruber assuring them the bases were covered.

"You're more vulnerable without a policy then you would be with one," Swartzendruber said. "This puts us in a better place."

The commission voted to accept the social media policy as presented by county administration.

In other business, the county commission:

Thanked the Parks Department for hosting the county employee picnic on Sunday.
Received a request from Wayne Valentine of the Silver-Haired Legislature for representation from the commission at the group's meeting next week in Topeka, with commissioner Chip Westfall showing an interest.
Heard a report from Swartzendruber on his participation in the regional city-to-city trip to Raleigh, North Carolina, with representatives from Wichita, Wellington, Derby and other area communities. The group toured the NC State Centennial Campus — an inspiration for Wichita State's Innovation Campus — and learned how that model could be applied in the Wichita metropolitan area, along with other economic development initiatives. Swartzendruber will also report on his trip to the Harvey County Economic Development Council, on whose behalf he participated.
Discussed extending the contract with current auditor Randy Hoffmeier, given that his contract expires this year and the county is in the first year of utilizing new financial software — leading Swartzendruber to recommend stability in that area at this time. Contract pricing information will be requested before said contract is officially approved.
Voted to retain commissioner Randy Hague as voting delegate and county clerk Rick Piepho as alternate for the Kansas Workers Risk Cooperative, which will have its annual meeting coming up on Nov. 14.
Approved an additional $2,000 in funding for the Harvey County Drug Free Youth Coalition, after grant funds came in a little under what was expected. While the commission believes in the preventative mission of the coalition, they also suggested putting on a funding drive among the local business sector if grant funds continue to come up short in the future.
Received all the information requested from the city of North Newton regarding NW 36th Street, including utility, drainage, right-of-way information, etc. With that work being complete, Swartzendruber noted quit claim deeds will now be worked on to officially transfer ownership of the entire right-of-way for the discussed portion of NW 36th Street to the county.
*Learned of ongoing negotiations between the Parks Department and Mainprize Industries LLC to create a multiyear contract for the Conquer the Gauntlet event at East Park.
*Approved proceeding with the purchase of a new computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system for the Communications Department and waiving normal purchasing policy. The total cost will be $202,430, following discounts, which Communications Director Don Gruver noted is within the department's budget and Swartezndruber stated was within the range of what was budgeted for the project.
*Held a hearing on delinquent solid waste fees. With no public comment, the hearing was closed and the county will continue to collect delinquent solid waste fees when individuals pay delinquent property taxes.