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The Linn County Commissioners met on Monday, July 24, and began with the approval of the minutes from the last meeting and followed that with the approval of claims in the amount of $757,045.63.

County Clerk David Lamb stated he needed a legal executive session at some point.

Commissioners heard from Galen Anderson who stated they had 19 transports in the last week with a total of 51 so far this month. In addition he noted they are still working to fill staffing needs in the county. Commissioner Jim Johnson asked for a clarification on the increase requested in AMR’s budget for 2024 and Anderson then responded to several questions from Johnson and the other two commissioners. (See related article in this edition.)

Linn County Rural Fire Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator Randy Hegwald reported that his department had responded to 10 incidents in the past week, bringing their year-to-date total to 256 incidents. He added that Station 960 at Prescott had a Touch-the-Truck event at Prescott last Friday that the kids had enjoyed. 

Hegwald noted that the new foam truck will be in this week and will be at Station 950. He added that the agreement with Evergy, who provided the trailer, is that the trailer can be used for anything the department needs, and if used in conjunction with the power plant or for training, the foam will be replaced at no cost to the county. Anything else, the foam is to be replaced by the county and the cost is roughly $24,000. He also added he had spoken with a member of the fair board regarding the upcoming need during fair week  and will be helping out during the demolition derby; as well as, helping the fair board with Water Night.

Sheriff Kevin Friend reported he currently has 59 inmates, 35 of which are farm-ins. He also noted that his department had opened 24 new cases and closed seven.

Linn County Health Department Director Amanda Snyder gave commissioners an update on various activities at the department and added that bids for the new classroom are due in by Aug. 25. 

Snyder then reported on the quarterly Health Advisory Board meeting scheduled for Monday night and stated they will be discussing the Workforce Development Grant they are applying for and should receive a total of $94,112.09. The board will be looking at options for recruiting, retaining and developing staff for the department and can be used over a four-year period.

Snyder then noted that a final decision needs to be made on the digital sign so a decision can be made as to what to do with the grant funds already received for the sign. Commissioners Johnson and Hightower noted they are not in favor of a digital sign and Snyder stated she will see if there are other uses for those funds.

Bond Advisor Joey McLiney reported to the board on recommendations from Gilmore and Bell’s tax attorneys on the refinance of the bond due to the probability of an IRS audit because the IRS is looking at jail projects across the board. McLiney then presented Gilmore and Bell’s recommendations. Commissioners reviewed the information provided and opted to go with the original plan and McLiney will move forward as previously planned.

Linn County Public Works Administrator Shaun West reported that commissioners should have rough estimates on the Pleasanton senior meals site and recommendations for truck and equipment tires; which are being consolidated into two orders per year. West was given permission to request bids on the tires.

West was also given permission to move forward on the request for bid on an operator for the airport.

Jamie Allen then spoke to commissioners regarding a nursing care facility. She noted that she did not want to cancel, but would like some more time before making her proposal.

Randy Page then spoke with commissioners about final plans for the old district court building. Commissioners asked if Page had received the newest plans and commissioners asked Lamb what needs he saw for the building and Lamb stated that his department would need several outlets for electrical items, such as election equipment that has to be charged every so often. A brief discussion followed on various changes that are currently planned and commissioners asked Page to provide a spreadsheet type bid so they can see what costs will be by area. 

Commissioner Hightower then asked about the demolition of the former county attorney’s building and West reported that the brick facade is the issue he is currently dealing with in regards to possibly moving the modular building/trailer that housed the county attorney. Commissioners agreed to wait on making a decision regarding the former jail building. Commissioners then asked Lamb about budgeting options and Lamb noted that a contractor’s bill could be purchase-ordered. Lamb also noted that he could show what is in special buildings for this year and budget funds into Capital Improvements so the funding is available for next year to finish out the work there and allow him to finish out the county budget.

Lamb noted that the budget hearing is currently set for Sept. 5, with the publication date set for Aug. 23; so Aug. 21 will be the last meeting prior to budget publication.

Commissioners then entered into an executive session for 10 minutes for personnel matters and 20 minutes for legal matters. Upon resuming the regular meeting, commissioners voted to go back into an executive session for personnel for 30 minutes. The regular meeting resumed with no action taken and commissioners then entered into a third executive session for personnel for another 20 minutes.

Clerk Lamb presented a proposal for a cost of living increase policy. Lamb noted that his thoughts were to make the process of cost of living raises each year, generally planned for around budget time or at the first of the year. He added that a policy would be more fitting as it would not bind future commissioners but would merely set a guideline. No decision was made.

Lamb then presented the budget for the debt service and noted he put in $300,000 for principal and $300,000 for interest and added that it is sales tax funded and will not affect the mill levy. The budget for this line item is currently set for $1,510,157.

Lamb presented the budget for the sewer districts, adding it is funded by collections on the sewer fund and also will not affect the mill levy. He stated he had budgeted $95,500 to allow for spending authority if needed next year.

Lamb then noted that the 911 tax fund is being budgeted for $215,000 as it has been. He explained this is funded through what’s collected off tax applied on phone bills.

Lamb added that the Linn County 911 fund, currently holding $249, needs to be closed out at some point. 

He noted that the last one in the D.A.R.E. fund that has been sitting there a while. Lamb and Sheriff Kevin Friend noted that before it can be moved elsewhere it would need to be researched as to what can be done with the $1,400 sitting there.  

Commissioners gave tentative approval on all budgets as presented.

Lamb noted he still needs final decisions on TriKo and Southeast Kansas Mental Health budgets. He stated he will try to get SEKMH back in to discuss their proposed budget.


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