Having approved an amendment to the county's lease agreement with Prairie View for the Health Department's office space on Pine Street recently, administration also pointed out that the current lease agreement would be expiring at the end of the year, which was the basis for County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber to enter into discussions with Prairie View regarding terms of a new lease.

On Monday, Swartzendruber reported back to the Harvey County Commission on those negotiations and asked for a consensus to move forward in pursuing a new lease agreement. The initial details sorted out include an increase in rental rates to $8.50 per square foot (which would lead to a total increase of $3,352 annually), while an automatic yearly increase of 2 percent also would be built into the three-year agreement, though the provision for uncapped rental rate revisions due to unforeseen circumstances would be eliminated from the policy.

"They could do that once a month, at whatever percent they want," Swartzendruber said, regarding Prairie View's current rent increase authority.

Commissioners were all in agreement that getting rid of the policy administration targeted was a good deal, but they weren't so convinced the new rates were in the best interest of the county. As commissioner Randy Hague sees it, it depends on whether the health department property on Pine Street is considered office space or medical space (as the rental rates would be high for the former and low for the latter).

Building space for the health department is actually utilized in both ways, so administration noted it is hard to fit it neatly into one category. Still, Hague noted he would like to see administration work out a lower rate. Given the terms of the old agreement (with a 5 percent increase built in upon contract renewal), the recently approved rate of $7.87 — bumped up from the original $7.50 — would be set to jump to $8.26 in 2020. Hague was hoping to see a cost closer to that.

Moving forward, an addendum still will need to be drafted for approval by the commission, so all Swartzendruber needed Monday was the green light to move forward with work on a new lease agreement. Commissioners are happy to give that deal more time to be worked out and were in consensus to get behind the elimination on the uncapped rental increase policy.

"I think the big thing I want to get out of is the unforeseen cost we could be hit with," said commission chair Chip Westfall.

"Even if we decide to do something different, we can't do something overnight," Hague said. "It's something we need to think about."


In other business, the county commission:

Heard from Harvey County Radio Control Club president Joe Owen on the well-attended festivities of the R/C Park grand opening that took place at Harvey County East Lake over the weekend, with nearly 50 R/C vehicle operators showing up to utilize the facilities. Owen noted the patrons using the amenities were all "extremely satisfied and happy" and thanked the commission for its support of the project.
Received a report on demographics and taxation from the Kansas Association of Counties, which highlighted the counties rank in population (14th), population density (11th) and levies per capita (98th), among other statistics.
Was petitioned by regional representatives to send letters to federal delegates in support of the Coalition against Bigger Trucks.
Discussed an appointment to the Harvey County Economic Development Council, as it was noted current council member Byron Warta's term is expiring and he has served more than his allotted amount (per commission policy). The board tabled an appointment decision until its next meeting.
Learned that second cent sales tax collections were up 4.125 percent through the first quarter, and sales tax overall was up 4.43 percent for the first quarter of 2019.
Heard about the success of Drug Take Back Day at the Harvey County Sheriff's Office, where five boxes — and 121.2 pounds — of drugs were collected for proper disposal.
Authorized a proclamation declaring May 5 through 11 as Public Service Recognition Week.
Approved Resolution 2019-11 to accept the resignation of Della L. Rowley and approve Michele Lowery to fill her unexpired term (for two years) as Harvey County appraiser.
Received and accepted the Harvey McPherson County Community Corrections 2020 comprehensive plan, authorizing Westfall to sign.
Heard a report from Assistant County Administrator Dan Bronson on the first quarter finances for 2019.