For the Harvey County Sheriff's Office, the waiting game continues.
The Harvey County Commission approved the purchase of five Ford Interceptors (totaling $157,675) for the department in February, but those vehicles have yet to be delivered to the sheriff's office. At the commission's meeting on Tuesday, Sheriff Chad Gay noted he has still heard no update on that order.
According to fordauthority.com, the manufacturing facility used for the vehicle was completely retooled — leading to delays for multiple models of vehicles manufactured in Chicago. Ford has confirmed that delays have impacted the police vehicle, pushing orders of more than 15,000 Ford Police Interceptor Utility SUVs back as the issues are sorted.
"Nobody's getting cars. Everybody's getting frustrated," Gay said.
Currently, Gay said Chief Deputy Mark Hardtarfer is working on vehicle bid requests for the next cycle. Taking the 2019 delay into consideration, that means the department may get 10 new vehicles at the same time — which would force some decisions about how they are cycled into the current fleet to balance the rotation of vehicles.
On top of that, Gay and county staff reported Dodge recently announced some minor changes to the Durango and plan to release a police package Durango next year. That new wrinkle, mixed with the current delays, could change the bidding process for the county in 2020.
"There's a lot of questions to be had," said Director of Finance Dan Bronson.
"We might have to not be so dang model specific," said Commission Chair Chip Westfall.
In other business, the county commission:
• Learned of work being done by lobbyists on 33 different issues on tax law expected to come before the State Legislature.
• Heard reports from the recent Harvey County D-FY town hall meeting (addressing substance abuse issues/strategies in the community) and the REAP policy summit, which focused on retention of educated workers and what could be done to improve those efforts.
• Was requested to RSVP to the Harvey County Farm Bureau's legislative presentation coming up Jan. 7, with all three commissioners planning on attending.
• Received a final update on the Department on Aging's SHICK program, which reportedly saved beneficiaries nearly half a million dollars assisting with Medicaid enrollment this year.
• Heard from Emergency Management director Gary Denny following the Kansas Wildland Fire Outlook conference in Hutchinson last week, where it was reported no drought relief is expected heading into the spring and more fire activity is almost guaranteed in 2020.
• Learned from planning and zoning director Gina Bell that the period of accepting information on the Equus Beds and the potential impact of Wichita's proposed ASR project amendments has been extended indefinitely. Having attended a recent hearing, Bell noted landowners made an effective argument in opposition to the ASR changes.
• Authorized amendments to an agreement with Park Aerospace and two ground leases, mostly to allow the business to move its entrance and parking lot 20 feet to the east while making enhancements to its facilities at the Newton City-County Airport.
• Authorized a two-year lease for Hangar N with Ballard Aviation at a rate of $1,600/month, which it was noted is in line with market value.
• Approved proceeding with advertisement of asphalt sealing bids for 2020, with 40 miles of work planned in the county.
• Accepted two bids received from Gaynor Electric and Kansas Electric to install 50-amp electrical services for camping pads at East and West Park, with staff to review and report back to the commission for final bid approval.
• Accepted the bid from The Newton Kansan for publication of legal notices at a cost of $2.25 per column inch. It was the lowest of two bids received.
• Approved the annual Peopleware agreement with Computer Information Concepts (the county's software provider for the financial system, human resources system, tax system and more) at the same annual cost as in 2018, covering annual maintenance, product enhancements and training.
• Reappointed commissioner Randy Hague to the Public Building Commission, ahead of the PBC's annual meeting scheduled for Jan. 7.
• Authorized staff to handle payment of bills next week, as the commission is not scheduled to meet.