Reviewing the Transportation Department's annual grant application with KDOT at the Harvey County Commission meeting on Tuesday, commissioners learned of some changes the department is looking to implement in the next fiscal year.
Harvey County transportation coordinator Karen Kaufman noted not much changed in the application — though the grant does vary based on mileage, with ridership on the cab (for low-income individuals) down this past year.
One new request was made, though, as Kaufman was made aware of some new reporting software at a recent Kansas Public Transit Association meeting. That software would allow tablets to be installed in the Harvey County Interurban vehicles and streamline reporting and tracking within the department.
"It's really viewed as an efficiency item from our standpoint," said Harvey County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber.
"We're one of the few organizations left that does things strictly by paper," said Department on Aging director Robert Carlton.
Use of tablets would enhance ease of scheduling and communicating scheduling with drivers, allow for more regular check-ins and free up Kaufman to handle more of her administrative duties — or fill in as a driver if needed. The software would also help categorize the types of trips each Harvey County Interurban vehicle is making.
For the past year, it was noted that "other" (including shopping trips, recreational trips, etc.) and medical were the top two reasons behind the majority of Harvey County Interurban trips.
Cost of the software would total $5,700 annually, with a 30% local match responsibility falling on the county. Another aspect of the application requires the commission to sign a letter of support stating it will commit to up to a 50% match of the Transportation Department's budget (in the case that the state stops funding it). With the numbers it saw, the commission approved the grant application as well as the letter of support on behalf of the commission.
"It would hurt this population pretty hard if that program went away," said commission chairman Chip Westfall.
In other business, the county commission:
• Heard an update on usage of the R/C park at East Lake from Harvey County Radio-Controlled Club president Joe Owen, who noted social events have been well-attended despite less than ideal weather conditions. Efforts to team with the local school district have also led to work installing curriculum on small unmanned aerial vehicles in USD 373 (with the club listed as a community support member in that initiative).
• Learned that the Kansas Department of Corrections is dismissing its case against Harvey/McPherson County Community Corrections, as reporting requirements have been satisfied.
• Was notified of a number of upcoming events the commissioners could attend, including the Healthy Harvey Coalition's annual celebration Nov. 21, the Planning and Zoning Department's annual appreciation dinner Dec. 10 and a 2020 policy summit hosted by REAP. The latter two events, it was noted, would require RSVPs.
• Received a report from Swartzendruber regarding the work of the Governor's Council on Tax Reform, which is preparing to make interim recommendations in early December — though the council's full report is still a year out.
• Discussed the county recycling situation, having heard back from many of the county communities in favor of no longer requiring separation of recycling from trash. With some of those communities in favor of a decision sooner rather than later, Swartzendruber noted administrative staff are currently working on a redrafted recycling resolution to bring before the commission.
• Heard reports from the regional transportation meetings, with one of the biggest changes noted being that the T-Works plans will be much more frequent (two years versus 10 years) in the future, though Westfall noted having representation is still crucial in getting support for projects in the county.
• Approved a second addendum to a lease with ICM for the placement of its gasifier at the county landfill, extending the lease through Dec. 31, 2020, with a $1 rental rate in January and February 2020 and a $750 monthly rate being implemented starting in March 2020 until the gasifier is removed.
• Approved Resolution 2019-23 establishing county holidays for 2020, moving one half-day holiday from the afternoon of Good Friday to the afternoon of Christmas Eve.
• Approved a lease agreement reassignment at the Newton City/County Airport with Sweigart Enterprises LLC, which is taking over the ground previously leased by Midwest Electric Transformers Inc. (with no other changes to the lease outside of ownership).
• Approved an agreement with the city of Halstead for inspection services regarding private septic systems and potable wells within its city limits.
• Approved a request for proposals to move forward in rebidding the county's legal publications contract.