Flooding in the month of May has taken its toll on the region, something that has been discussed among the Harvey County Commission the last several weeks. While the commission has heard about and seen evidence of the effects of the flooding, on Monday it received some exact figures on how the severe weather affected at least one county department, as Parks Director Kass Miller presented a comparison of monthly revenues for the month of May over the last few years.
Based on average revenues collected at East and West Park over the past two years ($15,798.75 and $9,929.89, respectively), losses in 2019 because of flooding totaled nearly $20,000 — as permits brought in only $4,919 in revenue at East Park and $1,715.17 at West Park (including bait shop revenue).
"These numbers are bad, but I bet if we saw golf course numbers they would be a whole lot worse than this," said Commissioner Randy Hague.
Even so, the revenue loss at the county parks was significant. Miller and administration noted, as such, that the operational budget is being amended in light of those losses.
Given damage from the storm is adding expenses (for repairs) on top of that, Commissioner Ron Krehbiel questioned whether there would be any problems addressing those issues. Miller noted that would be strongly tied to the direction staff takes in addressing one of the biggest problem areas at West Park.
"That depends on what we do with West Park and the river bank," Miller said. "That's going to be the majority of the expense if we do anything up there."
While the storms also led to some refunds on shelter reservations, Miller pointed out that said reservations did still generate revenue, as those shelters can be reserved up to a year in advance.
Adjusting for those losses is something the parks department will continue to do, but Miller did also point out that traffic at the parks has begun to swing upwards again — in part because of coverage of the parks during the flooding, as well as staff finally being able to get out and do fish stocking at the lakes.
"Our last two weekends have been incredibly busy," Miller said. "We're getting a lot of day use, and camping is starting to pick up as well."
In other business, the county commission:
• Received invites to a county commissioner's conference at the White House and a special REAP convention on broadband internet access coming up at the end of July.
• Resigned the lease with Avcon for Hangar F at the Newton City-County Airport, after the commission was alerted to some data missing from the initial document.
• Discussed current and ongoing projects, including the transition of phone services — which were completed last week — and the law enforcement center remodel. The latter continues and is also meant to kickstart talk on a new law enforcement center agreement, according to administration.
• Learned that the Department on Aging is looking for volunteer drivers for its Find-A-Way program to help get that project up and running.
• Was informed that the Planning and Zoning Department has done a number of water tests following flooding, with all of them showing signs of bacteria.
• Heard a report on the Carpegeddon event held at East Lake over the weekend, with six teams competing and 1,000 inches of Carp caught.
• Was introduced to new Solid Waste Director Justin Bland.
• Approved the amended Harvey County Extension Council budget request, asking for $347,053 (a two percent increase from FY 2019) from the county.
• Accepted the lone bid from Wilkins for a live-floor trailer for the Solid Waste Department. The total cost of the bid was $75,145.