Mitchell County Attorney, Mark Noah, met with the County Commissioners Monday morning on issues involving the growing need to impound vehicles taken in drug busts and how to handle this situation.
Attorney Noah stated that he, along with Sheriff Doug Daugherty and Police Chief Brennan Odle have been very aggressive in seizing the property and drugs that are taken from these criminals when they are arrested. He brought in a temporary draft of the resolution they would like to see put into effect.
Some of the problems they face are that drug dealers drive vehicles that aren't their own and often belong to family members. "Some of the vehicle owners claim not to have known what their vehicle was been used for but I can't imagine how they could not know with the smell the drugs leave in the vehicle and many have been modified inside for this type of use. They would have to be sticking their head in the sand not to know," he said.
The County has to impound these vehicles and hold them for evidence or foreclosure and the cost of this adds up since some are left for long periods of time. This also causes a security issue to make sure the vehicles are not stolen from storage. They also have cars that are just abandoned to deal with. It all costs the county money, Noah said.
There is also the problem that there are liens on the vehicles and the lien holder has to be paid after all these other charges are paid. The owner and the lien holders would be given notice and could come to the Sheriff Sale and bid on the vehicle at that time. It would be up to the lien holder and the owner to deal with whoever was given permission to borrow the vehicle. Noah suggested appointing an unbiased person as a hearing officer to determine the facts of the case. They would make suggestions but would not determine the outcome as to what should be done.
"We are looking for better ways of negotiating with these people," Noah said. While he presented a preliminary draft for the commissioners to look over he was not looking for a decision this morning. There are some statutory issues involved with this decision but by taking this action they hope to close-up some of the gaps, and shorten up the time frame the vehicles have to be held, he said.
Sheriff Daughterty, Chief Odle and Attorney Noah want to start charging towing fees, impound fees, and storage fees. The charges suggested this morning were $75 for impound fees and $15 a month for storage fees, plus whatever the business involved charges for towing fees. This does not include tractors, guns, or cash, Noah said, these are handled differently.
"Our main concern is enforcing the law and insuring public safety," Attorney Noah said. "With the number of drug problems we now have to deal with we need additional tools in place to allow us to clean this up. If we don't do this we will have to continue holding these vehicles and not collect anything for it," he said. After discussion it was decided the commissioners would think about the information and make a decision at the April 8, meeting. Attorney Noah is to draw up a final draft of the resolution and bring it to that meeting.
The second concern Attorney Noah brought to the commissioners concerned the recent Sheriff's Sale. "We did pretty good on the sale but there are several issues we still need to clean up since the county ended up with several pieces of property," he said. One is on west 8th street in Beloit and one is in Simpson. The properties have to be held for six months. The one in Beloit can't be developed because of an on going drainage problem. It as decided to pursue selling it at a lower price. Chairman Mike Cooper may know someone to buy it. Commissioner Tom Claussen knows the property in Simpson and someone who might be interested in buying it. They will check on this.
Larry Emerson, Public Works, was next on the agenda and asked Attorney Noah about getting rid of the five or six confiscated vehicles that has been sitting in the county lot for the past seven or eight years. They will work on a way to get them removed. Emerson told Commissions a salesman from Roberts Truck Co. is coming to talk to him tomorrow about the truck they want to trade in and then he will know more after that situation.
Emerson discussed the need to replace a bridge on the road where Micah Tice lives three miles south of Beloit that does not have railings on it and is in pretty bad shape. He will talk to the landowners involved about doing this. They had talked about moving the bridge a few feet to the east to allow straighten it out but they will probably just put it back the way it is. He is thinking of putting a middle span in it and making it a 60 to 80 foot clear span bridge. They have most of the supplies on hand to do most of this work.
Emerson and the commissioners discussed the North Central Kansas Highway District meeting they will be attending in Minneapolis on Wednesday, April 3. Commissioners Tom Claussen and Jim Marshall will attend along with Emerson and Gary Milholland, from the County Road Department.
Commissioners approved a contract to see to a periodic check of elevator doors for an elevator owned by Thyssen KPUPP Co. of Wichita, for $60 a month with no pay for mileage. A Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Rebate Application for Kyle Kopsa for an addition to his house and garage at 2964 K Road was approved.
A 15-minute executive meeting with Clerk Chris Treaster and Melinda Latham present to discuss non-elected personnel was held. No decisions were made. This was a job interview for the job advertised by the commissioners for the position of Licensed County Appraiser. The appraisers position is a four-year contract that will run out on June 30, 2013. The new contract starts July 1, 2013. There are only 82 registered appraisers available in the State of Kansas at this time. While there is not an opening for this position at the present time the commissioners decided to advertise the job since the present appraiser is part time employee and does not live in this county. They would like to have a more hands on appraiser who lives locally and is able to spend more time in this office. They have had three applications for the job. Present Appraiser, David Thornton, has reapplied for the position. The timeline to apply for the position is still open at this time. They presently have one more application to consider.
Matt Schroeder was on the agenda to talk about the Federal Government and budget affairs but called in and cancelled.
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