Riley County Commission, August 2, 2018

Riley County Commission August 2, 2018

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Rodriguez and Wells present, Wilson absent.

County Clerk Rich Vargo reported the new voting machines will have print out ballots available so voters can examine them for verification.  The State is requiring that voting machines be used.  Vargo said he would prefer mail in ballots such as those used in Oregon and Washington.

Greg McHenry, Appraiser, said 18 tax appeals were filed this year.  Some were from the same entities that had appealed last year and who had been granted small claim adjustments.  This year, however, the appeals were all decided in favor of the County.

McHenry said Representative Tom Phillips has been working with him to develop legislation relating to the “black store” concept now being pursued by some retailers.  “Black stores” would refer to stores being taxed as if they were empty of merchandise.

Ron Fehr, Manhattan City Manager, gave a brief update to the Commissioners on issues facing the City. He noted the business park is filling up and the City will be looking for ways to expand or create an additional park.  The airport is doing well, with about 75,000 persons using flights this year.

The airport has been unable to attract a restaurant and will be using vending machines for the time being.

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Riley County Commission July 26, 2018

Riley County Commission July 26, 2018

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Wells, Rodriguez and Wilson present.  Rodriguez chaired.

County Attorney Barry Wilkerson reported two attorneys in his office successfully prosecuted a murder case.  Also, Manhattan recently hosted a conference on Human Trafficking.  Approximately 180 attendees were from outside Manhattan and seemed to be very positive about the facilities and the restaurants and attractions available.

County Attorney Clancy Holeman asked the Commissioners to check their calendars to set a date to attend a “fence viewing”.  It is the responsibility of the Commissioners to make decisions regarding disagreements between land owners over their fences.

Health Department Director Jennifer Green requested approval of a contract with the health insurance provider Aetna under the County’s KANCARE contract.  Aetna replaces a previous provider once authorized under KANCARE.

Tami Robison, Budget and Finance Officer, led a work session to discuss projects and purchases that should be decided prior to the close of the fiscal year. Among the items discussed was the need to purchase hardware and software to replace existing equipment used in voting.  The old system is described as “falling apart”.

There is a need for a new ambulance as well as enlarged sleeping quarters in the building housing responders.  Apparently men and women must share the same sleeping quarters.  By enlarging the space separate rooms would be made available.

Among other items considered were shooting range improvements, completion of the Courthouse Plaza Master Plan and vehicle replacements.

 

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USD 383 Board of Education, June 27, 2018

Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer

During public comment time, Debbie Nuss addressed the board and suggested that a portion of MHS East Campus be used as a center for community social services.  The school board is considering moving ninth graders from East Campus to MHS West Campus and using proposed bond funds to add onto West Campus, which would free up space at East Campus.

Lew Faust, Dir. of Business Services, updated the board on the Kansas Supreme Court decision on school finance.  The Court found the latest formula to be unconstitutional but was also complimentary of the Legislature’s efforts.  The formula still needed to account for inflation.  Schools will be allowed to open in the fall, and the Legislature will have until 2019 to tweak the formula.  USD 383 will be able to move forward with negotiations and planning the budget.

Mr. Faust also provided board members with information about year-end fund transfers.  The board approved 7-0 to transfer $1.5 million from the general fund to the contingency reserve fund and capital outlay.  The board also approved transferring $450,000 to special education funds.

The board approved a proposal to begin offering Chinese at the high school in the fall. USD 383 is partnering with KSU to offer the course, and students who wish to take it for college credit will need to pay their own tuition.

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USD 383 Board of Education, June 6, 2018

Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer

Work session:

The focus of the work session was the proposed $130 million bond.  Items in the bond include a new elementary school, expanding the middle schools in order to move 6th graders to the middle school level, expanding MHS West Campus in order to move 9th graders to the building, and renovating MHS East Campus and using it for administration.  Eric Reid, Asst. Superintendent, also said administration had taken the direction provided by the board at a previous meeting to develop a plan to move the district’s central kitchen to the transportation building and expand it, and then raze the current central kitchen facility.

Greg Vahrenburg, with the firm Piper Jaffray which is providing financial consulting for the bond, discussed with board members a plan of action for financing the bond.  An application is required to be submitted to the State Board of Education for review and also to the Kansas Dept. of Education.  The Kansas Legislature passed legislation that imposes a cap on the amount of school bonds that can be approved in a given year, which is based on how much principal of school bonds was paid off the previous year.  Mr. Vahrenburg said the dollar amount in bonds being considered by Kansas school districts currently exceeds the cap. He advised the board that if there are more applications submitted than would fall below the cap, the district should present all scenarios that would put the bond in the best possible light, e.g. emphasizing the need for additional space due to increased enrollment.  Mr. Vahrenburg also discussed with the board the differences between a 15-year and a 20-year repayment of the bond.  A 15-year repayment schedule would have a 3% interest rate, and the mill levy would be set at 22 mills through 2023 and could then be lowered to 17.5 mills.  A 20-year repayment schedule would have a 4.14% interest rate, and the mill levy would be 18 mills through 2025 and could then be lowered to 13.75 mills.

Budget hearing:

The board held a public hearing for the adoption of the amended budget.  No members of the public commented during the hearing.  During the regular meeting, the board approved the adoption of the amended budget.

Regular meeting:

The board was provided a review of the accelerated math program at the secondary level.  A task force was formed to examine recent research and provide information to the board.  With the accelerated program, advanced students skipped ahead to harder courses, and teachers noticed that students who had skipped 6th and 7th grade math had gaps in their knowledge.  “Compaction” became the focus, which exposed students to all of the material and skills at a faster pace.  Two courses were proposed at the middle school level, which allowed students to take three years of math over two years, and an accelerated course was also proposed for the high school level.  The review was for information only.

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Riley County Commission May 31, 2018

Riley County Commission May 31, 2018

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Rodriguez, Wells and Wilson present, Rodriguez chair.

Commissioner Wilson announced that he has decided not to run again for the Commission or any other public office at this time.  He has accepted a job with International Public Ministries.  This will leave the District 1 position on the Commission without an incumbent running in the upcoming election.

County Counselor Clancy Holeman said he had been asked for advice by a man on how to make a complaint regarding his being hit by an empty shell casing while riding his bike on 48th Street near a local trap shooting range.  The recommendation was for the man to make the complaint to the range owner since the event involved private property.

Jennifer Green, Health Department Director, requested a letter of support from the Commission to submit with a grant request to the Caroline Peine Charitable Foundation for $100,000.  The funds will be used to provide quality improvement training to child care providers as well as help new providers meet required compliance standards. Request approved.

Green also submitted for Commission approval the annual Memorandum of Understanding between the Health Department and Irwin Army Hospital at Ft. Riley to provide WIC Services (Women Infants and Children) at the Hospital.  The program began in August 2017.  The annual caseload as of April 2018 was 844 clients.  The Hospital has increased WIC clerk stations to two.  Request approved.

County Extension Director Jennifer Wilson reported 616 persons received help from volunteers in filing their federal tax forms while 638 received such help with Kansas forms.   Wilson said this resulted in about $900,000 returned to local citizens assisted.

The Riley County Fair will be held July 26 through 28.

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Riley County Commission May 24, 2018

 

Riley County Commission May 24, 2018

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Rodriguez, Wilson and Wells present, Rodriguez chair.

County Attorney Barry Wilkerson reported on a recent trial involving abuse of a child which resulted in that child’s death.  He said he appreciated the people who serve on the jury and have to listen to horrible things that occur with child abuse.  He noted such cases are expensive to bring to trial due to the cost of bringing in expert witnesses to testify and thanked the Commissioners for their support.

The Commissioners approved the ”Notice to Proceed” regarding a contract for a County-wide Emergency Radio Communications System Upgrade.  Emergency Management Director Pat Collins said, “You just saved lives today!”

Kevin Howser, IT/GIS Director, said he had just completed a “phishing” test for employees.  Apparently malware is getting more and more sophisticated and hard to detect.

Pat Collins, Emergency Management Director, said it is becoming more and more difficult to recruit volunteer firefighters for rural fire districts.  Apparently some states are offering incentives to help with recruiting.  Collins suggested providing some type of stipends to help attract volunteers and said the County needs to be proactive in seeking ways to maintain the system.

Tami Robison, Budget and Finance Officer, reported Pottawatomie County sent a check to reimburse Riley County for the cost of ambulance services.  The cost issue has been a matter of dispute over a long period of time.  Riley County ambulances have been serving that portion of Pottawatomie County which is located in the City of Manhattan.

Riley County offices will be closed on Monday due to the observance of the Memorial Day Holiday.

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Riley County Commission, April 23, 2018

Riley County Commission April 23, 2018

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Rodriguez, Wells and Wilson present, Rodriguez chair.

In considering Pottawatomie County Commissioners complaints about the cost of ambulance services provided by Riley County, Commissioner Wells questioned the wisdom of continuing to have Riley County provide such services to Pottawatomie County.  He said he felt it was time to end the arrangement.  Commissioner Rodriguez tended to agree while Commissioner Wilson urged taking time to give it a little more thought.

Robbin Cole, Pawnee Mental Health Services Director, reported that 86 donor contributions with match funds amounted to a $20,559 total received by Pawnee during the recent Greater Manhattan Community Foundation Grow Green Day event.  Cole said an alternate position is open on the Pawnee Board.  She suggested one of the Commissioners might consider serving.   Commissioners from other counties have served in the past.

Cole said plans to create crisis stabilization coverage continue to be studied.  Cost is an issue.  Apparently insurance coverage, except for Medicaid patients, ceases after 72 hours of treatment.  Pawnee expects to request $725,000 from the State and anticipates the State will expect some County help with providing the services.

The Superintendent at Osawatomie State Hospital has resigned and an acting Superintendent has been appointed.

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Riley County Commission, March 26, 2018

Riley County Commission March 26, 2018

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Rodriguez, Wells and Wilson present, Rodriguez chair.

Lori Feldcamp, Director of Big Lakes Developmental Center, said her agency had just completed and passed its State licensure review.  The agency will now begin to prepare for its National accreditation renewal due next year.  She said BLDC was to be recognized that evening for its services to the community at the Chamber of Commerce awards annual dinner.

Persons with Intellectual and other developmental disabilities and the agencies that serve them will be visiting the State Capital tomorrow to ask support for their programs.  The agencies received a 3% increase in State financial aid last year, the first increase provided in a number of years.

Chairman Rodriguez read a proclamation in recognition of National Public Health Month.

Assistant County Attorney Craig Cox provided Commissioners with information on the County’s decision to terminate the inter-local agreement to move the local law enforcement center’s shooting range to Ft. Riley.  The original agreement with Ft. Riley was agreed to prior to the approval of the Range Officer at the Fort who brought attention to possible conflicts that could arise with that agreement.  The County could stand to lose up to $400,000 and the range under certain circumstances if it is built on Fort property.

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USD 383 Board of Education, March 7, 2018

Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer

Work session:

The work session focused on facilities in terms of what might be considered for a bond.  Dave Colburn mentioned changing the entrances for the middle schools to improve security, and he wondered if there should be a standard established and what could be achieved to improve safety.  Eric Reid, Asst. Supt., reported on the two community meetings that had been held, in which approximately 30 persons had attended each time.  The meetings had discussed the possibilities of building a new elementary school, making elementary schools K-5 instead of the current K-6, creating two early learning sites, and the tax implications of a bond.  Board members had been provided a summary of the community meetings, and Leah Fliter said she was struck by the amount of discussion focused on a second high school because the board had not discussed it much.  She thought the board would need to clearly communicate why they might not go that route due to the expense of acquiring land for a second high school and many other variables.  Mr. Colburn said he’d had a similar discussion with the Chamber of Commerce about what is really needed, and a second high school isn’t a need.  He thought there were many other needs that stack up before the board would get to a second high school.  Mr. Reid thought that people view adding a wing on to the high school as just pushing a second high school down the road of something that will eventually have to be done.  Katrina Lewison thought it wasn’t so much about the money, but rather, why move 9th graders up to the main campus?  She also thought it was a misconception people have that building a second high school would be more cost effective.  Jurdene Coleman asked if there is data from other districts that would be helpful in determining when a second high school is needed, and Mr. Reid said that the second high school decision tends to be a community-driven decision, meaning districts build second high schools for different reasons.  Several board members commented that the decision to have one or two high schools should be based on what’s best educationally, since the current high school isn’t overcrowded.  Darrell Edie commented that a new high school might cost $120 million, and the elementary level is overcrowded, and the board needs to emphasize that.  Mr. Colburn cautioned the board that one or two people can make a lot of noise about a particular issue, but they’re not responsible for making decisions and looking at all of the options.

Regular meeting:

Lew Faust, Dir. of Business Services, provided the board with a legislative update.  Districts’ cash balances have been discussed, and Mr. Faust noted that the majority of USD 383’s cash balances are in restricted funds, with only 20% in the general operating fund.  Mr. Colburn commented that half of the state’s payment comes in June at the end of the fiscal year instead of July, so it makes it look like districts have a lot of money at the end of the year.  Mr. Faust reported that legislators are considering a bill that would change the mill levy from the current 20 mills and would gradually raise it to 26 mills, then 32 mills, and then 38 mills, which could impact support for a local bond issue.  He also said if the proposed Pres. Trump budget were approved, USD 383 would lose about 15% in federal funding.

The board also discussed a position statement with the plan to send the approved statement to state and federal legislators.  In light of the school shooting in Florida in February, the statement was in regards to the district’s needing help in developing solutions that will reduce the likelihood of future incidences of school violence.

 

 

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Riley County Commissioners Meeting, March 5, 2018

Report on the Board of Riley County Commissioners Meeting for March 5, 2018

Observer: Bill Schenck-Hamlin

Topics of the Business Meeting

1 Commissioners proclaimed that the first day of Spring is to be celebrated as National Agriculture Day.
2 Commissioners signed a Riley County Position Action form to hire an asphalt supervisor.
3 The minutes for the March 1, 2018 meeting were reviewed and approved.
4 Commissioners approved the Tentative Agenda for the March 8 and 12 meetings.

Press Conference Topics

1 Commissioners noted that they were in communication with Lynn Jenkins and other representatives about upgrading the radio communication system in Riley County. They stated that the upgrade will be important to NBAF and the people in Riley County.
2 People’s State Bank donated real property to the County for a fire station. The donated property exists in Leonardville, where the fire station will be built.
3 Captain Rich Fink of the RCPD said that they have been pulling resources together for Saint Paddy’s day. Also, a drowning occurred last weekend in which local fisherman overturned his boat and drowned. Captain Fink warned people that lake water is icy cold this time of year and hypothermia is a real threat to life.
4 Gina Scroggs reported on two events for Downtown Manhattan. First, Downtown Manhattan will sponsor a 5-mile run for breast cancer. Money raised will benefit the Johnson Cancer Research Center on campus and Downtown Manhattan. KSU Marching Band has joined the event. Beer and pizza will be available. Last, Downtown Manhattan has hired a new manager who will be developing special events for Manhattan. They are presently working on a new concept, called “Third Thursdays.” The point is to encourage people to come downtown.
5 Megan Dougherty from Walk Kansas reported on an event that will take occur from March 18 to May 12, 2018. The purpose of the event is to get people outside and exercising on a more regular basis.
6 Laurie Harrison reported that the National Weather Service from Topeka, KS will present information on severe weather and precautions the public can take to minimize the effects. The presentation will be at the Wareham Hotel on March 26, 2018.
7 Leon Hobson received an award for Government Engineer of the Year. On another topic altogether, Hobson reported that pre-cast concrete box culverts needed to be installed at four different places: Parallel Road, Center Hill Road, Cavalry Road, and Sherman Road.

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