The Linn County Commissioners met on Monday, Jan. 30, beginning their meeting with the approval of the minutes from their last meeting. Commissioner Jim Johnson then moved to approve the claims in the amount of $475,575.17. Commissioner Jason Hightower seconded the motion and it carried on a 3-0 vote.
Linn County sheriff Kevin Friend presented his weekly report noting he is currently housing 31 farm-in inmates for Wyandotte County and the U.S. Marshals Service. Friend then asked commissioners about his prior proposal to include all county owned generators in the maintenance agreement he is working on for generators at the new Justice Center; and Public Works Administrator Shaun West stated he was waiting to review one more bid before making a decision. Friend agreed to wait.
Linn County Rural Fire Chief and Emergency Management coordinator Randy Hegwald reported on incidents for the week and noted the CPR classes held on Saturday went well. He added that they are looking to do more classes in the future,
West provided commissioners with a copy of the year-end inventory and reported the new employee has moved into Phase Two of his training. West then stated he had met with Pfefferkorn on the landfill needs and that work is still in progress. Commissioner Danny McCullough asked West about the situation with State Line Road and West replied that the county had requested a meeting with the other party and had heard nothing back.
West then requested a 10-minute executive session with five minutes for personnel and five minutes for legal matters.
Sherri Loveland, Linn County Park and Marina manager, requested approval to go out for bids on the dredging of the lagoon and work on the swimming and parking area improvements.
Commissioners then approved Resolution 2023-09 regarding the use of poly-tanks and adding in a reduction in lateral systems requirements in the sanitation code for properties larger than two acres.
Commissioners then entered into an executive session for legal matters for 20 minutes with Economic Development director Jessica Hightower and Darcy Wilson, followed by 10 minutes for West with five being for personnel and five for legal matters for a total of 30 minutes.
Upon resuming regular session, County Treasurer Janet Kleweno reported on the interest earnings for the fourth quarter of 2022.
Kleweno and Register of Deeds Kristy Schmitz then requested permission to spend $4,479 for a new copier for the courthouse to replace the one currently in use as parts can no longer be purchased for the one they have. Commissioners approved the request on a 3-0 vote.
Public comment followed in which a gentleman who used to reside at the Linn County Park and Marina asked when the issues he had asked about previously would be dealt with. County Counselor Gary Thompson stated he had received the information required from him but had not yet had an opportunity to discuss it with commissioners and modifications could result from that discussion. The man replied that he had sent the information twice and being unable to verify where he had lived for the last five years was making it extremely difficult to find a residence or to find work. Commissioner McCullough apologized for the delay and stated the commissioners would try to discuss things that day and Thompson stated he would provide a letter verifying residency for him by the next day no matter what the decision.
Following public comment, commissioners entered into a 10-minute executive session for legal matters with Thompson with no action taken afterward.
Commissioners then heard from Mike Dallman with PVD Compliance who explained the process of the sampling of the property valuation and noted that the county was in the confidence range for commercial property sales in the county for both level and uniformity. Residential property sales, however, were in the confidence range for level median and out of range for uniformity. This resulted in possible points of 26.6 points for the county but because the residential ration was both in and out, no points had been given, so the county only received the 3.6 points available for the commercial side of the report for 2022. (See related article in this edition.)
Trading Post curator Ali Hamilton then spoke to commissioners regarding the Kansas legislature renaming a portion of U. S. Highway 69 for a Navy aviation machinists mate second class who lived in Pleasanton when he joined the Navy and subsequently died at Pearl Harbor. Hamilton is trying to raise funds for signs noting the memorial highway to be made and placed by the Kansas Department of Transportation. (See related article in this edition.)
Commissioners then entered into another executive session with five minutes set aside for trade secrets with Jessica Hightower, 10 for legal matters with Thompson and 10 for real estate acquisition with Thompson.
Following the executive session EDA director Hightower reported on available ARPA funding, with Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center requesting $217,500 to cover expenses; La Cygne requested $65,000 to make improvements. McCullough and Johnson felt the funds could be better used in-house and Hightower moved to deny the request from Southeast Kansas Mental Health and motion carried. Johnson moved to deny the request from La Cygne with the motion approved on a 2-1 vote with Hightower voting against.
Commissioners gave permission for Jessica Hightower to develop a request for bids for a developer of the Moderate Income Housing grant.
Commissioners approved the use of the $100,000 allocation from ARPA, which is separate from funds received from the federal government. This grant from the Kansas Housing Corporation would pay for a developer to come in and build houses around the county; the motion carried on a 3-0 vote.
Commissioners reviewed financial information for the airport provided by Hightower and discussed current issues with the pump. She further noted that one owner at the airport is held up on developing his portion of the property due to the county being unable to complete some areas of development. The county is currently paying county, city and school district property taxes. She gets calls on a regular basis asking about lots, but they are not interested in buying them.
“We need a draw that’s not just fuel,” said Director Hightower.
McCullough asked what it would cost to have a developer build on the property and manage it.
“Pilots are not paying for our lots,” stated Thompson.
“We need to develop a plan,” said McCullough.
Director Hightower noted she had applied for a $50,000 grant for development. Discussion then turned to attending the committee meeting next Monday and Commissioner Johnson suggested a workshop to develop a plan.
Chris Martin reported all buildings at the Park are set up for internet and new laptops are in and delivered.
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