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The Linn County Commissioners meeting on Monday, Feb. 13 began with a clarification from County Counselor Gary Thompson that commissioners could, if they chose to, simply approve the consent agenda for the meeting, which would include the minutes of the previous meeting, the claims to be paid and any adds and abates to be approved all in one motion, or they could continue to do it as they have in the past. Commissioners opted to leave it as is and a motion was made and carried on a 3-0 vote to approve the minutes of the last meeting.

Commissioners then approved the claims in the amount of $345,664.18, followed by adds and abates 2022-824-825.

Commissioners accepted the report for January from the Linn County Park and Marina showing an income of $14,937.63 with expenses totaling $35,019.11. The report further noted that expenses were so high due to a KCAMP insurance payment, two months worth of payments on the Park’s electric service and a high charge from RWD 3 due to a water leak. 

Commissioners voted to move the meeting slated for Monday, Feb. 20, to Tuesday, Feb. 21, due to Presidents Day with Commissioners Jason Hightower noting he will not be in attendance on that date.

Missy Lancaster, Director of the Linn County Health Department, reported on her numbers for the week, adding she will be out on Thursday of this week for a regional nurses meeting and should have numbers for the commissioners next week.

Linn County Fire Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator reported on the number of incidents they handled this week and noted that the Noxious Weed Department had added a tank to their department that will go on an extra pick-up that was previously not in use and give them another vehicle to use. Commissioner Danny McCullough asked about mutual aid agreements and Hegwald reported he is working on updating mutual aid agreements that all appear to have expired in 2018. 

McCullough asked how they generally work and Hegwald explained that if paged with a city fire and it is a false alarm, then they charge, but if it’s not a false alarm they simply render aid.

EDA Jessica Hightower reported that the Safe Streets for All grant the country applied for had been approved. The grant provides a $1 million grant on the infrastructure bill that will allow the county to conduct a study on all roads. The county portion is currently $1,500 but that may end up being covered by KDOT.

EDA Hightower reported there are two Neighborhood Revitalization Programs, one for new development and one for rehabilitation. The commissioners voted 2-1, with McCullough voting against, to approve Resolution 2023-11 and 2023-12 approving the two programs. A motion was then made to approve Page Construction as the contractor with applications being accepted for another 90 days as recommended by the Housing committee and was approved on a 2-1 vote with McCullough voting against. (See related article in this edition)

Planning and Zoning Director Darin Wilson told commissioners a public hearing should be held in April on the new zoning regulations then it comes to commissioners for final approval.

Sheriff Kevin Friend reported on numbers for his department for the week. Commissioner Jim Johnson asked who does VIN inspections and Friend stated Doug Barlet is currently working two days a week to do VIN inspections and fingerprinting.

Undersheriff Bobby Johnson then spoke, clarifying the need for the change in holiday time being paid if they work the actual day they get their time and half rather than the holiday pay. Katie Parscale, sitting in for County Clerk David Lamb, noted they are currently only being paid time and half for 8 hours. Undersheriff Johnson also addressed a similar issue with accruing sick time. Thompson noted it comes down to a math issue because the hours need to be looked at in-whole, not simply in four hour increments.

Linn County Attorney Burton Harding announced his resignation effective the end of March, as the position has changed tremendously since he started. (See related article in this edition.)

Commissioners then moved to enter into a 15 minute executive session for non-elected personnel for the purposes of discussing the possibility of hiring someone to oversee the remodeling contract on the former jail with one subject interested in such a position whose name was not given.

Commissioners then authorized Thompson to reach out to Goldberg regarding the further use of the former jail building, but not limit his research to Goldberg’s opinion.

McCullough noted he felt there were a myriad of issues with the old jail, based on past reports and minutes he had read. Commissioner Hightower  asked how it compares to the cost of leaving the courthouse annex building during the construction phase of the Justice Center. McCullough noted he felt inspections should be done on the building due to past issues.

“If we’re looking at county buildings, do we really believe the former jail is our worst one?” asked Commissioner Hightower.

“I’m not against I,t but I think we need to look at everything,” said McCullough.

“That’s part of what we just talked about, if we hire Rick to oversee the remodel he can bring in the inspectors, that would be his job,” said Thompson.

“I’m just trying to figure out what it’s going to cost,” added McCullough.

A discussion ensued regarding the building, with McCullough noting “restoration work is billed on change orders, that’s how they make their money.”

“So it was billed to the public as unusable?” asked Commissioner Johnson and McCullough stated he did not know.

Moving forward, Public Works Administrator Shaun West provided a cost summary by task for the commissioners and requested a five-minute executive session to discuss personnel matters. Commissioners voted to enter into executive session for personnel matters to protect the privacy of the individual(s) under discussion on a 3-0 vote. 

Upon resumption of the regular session, the commissioners approved moving Daniel Parsons from the position of operator to mechanic in the north shop and then approved the hiring of Andy McDaniel as operator/driver in the south shop.  

A discussion regarding the airport and its current state then followed with Jim Martin, a property owner who lives near the airstrip, providing copies of the original agreement between the county and the city of Pleasanton and stating that he was part of those who fought it. Martin asked who currently owns the airstrip and Thompson noted that the county does. 

“On what part of it does the county pay the city property taxes on it?” asked Martin, “Isn’t that double taxation?”

Commissioner Jim Johnson then asked about the runway lights in storage once more.

“If you read the handwritten part of this on the back, this was done in 2008.” Asked Martin, “How can a commission make a decision for a future commission to uphold?”

Commissioner Hightower then stated that commissioners are merely the managers of the county and are no different than any new manager coming into a business and as managers have to manage to the best of their ability with what they inherit from the previous manager.

Discussion returned to the airstrip with Martin noting the airstrip was done with the knowledge there would be future expenses despite the promise it would not cost the county taxpayers anything. 

Thompson explained that the city had to apply for the grant but it would later be conveyed to the county, but beyond that he could not recollect or interpret the record without it being in front of him. McCullough asked why a CUP was not issued for the property. Darin Wilson noted that his records show findings but no CUP.

McCullough noted he had spoken with a developer regarding the possibility of a hub being located there. 

McCullough then went back to reading from various documents and reports. He then noted that he had attended the airport committee meeting and the committee had noted something needs to be done. EDA Hightower stated that the problem lies in the fact that it is not an FAA approved airport as things have been done that are not FAA approved.

McCullough then asked why it is not tax exempt and Thompson replied that two things are holding up the exemption process - one, the county rents out the hay grounds, and two, the county is trying to sell the surrounding land.

“I think it’s unfair to the taxpayers, so do we have someone come in and tell us what we’re doing wrong or -” said McCullough.

“Or - we give it to a developer and he develops it,” finished Thompson.

The discussion then turned to goals for the next year, with each commissioner voicing his thoughts on what the focus should be. McCullough and Hightower both noted wages are a top issue they want to explore. 


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