Mitchell County Budget Approved As Presented

Commission Chairman, Mike Cooper, opening the hearing of the Mitchell County Budget for the coming year at their meeting Monday morning. Cooper said this is the sixth budget hearing he has sat on and during that time the commission has been able to hold the mill levy steady up until this year.

The only reason the Commissioners were able to hold the mill levy steady in the past was that, unlike some neighboring counties, Mitchell County's assessed evaluation continued to steadily rise. Last year the evaluation was $62,968,279 and this year it went up 7 and 1/2 percent making it $67,815.680. This was still moderate according to neighboring counties, Lincoln, Osborne, Jewell and Smith Counties accessed evaluation that all decreased during that period of time.

The Chairman said, "We had to increase the county's mill levy this year to 7.8 mills this year due to the rising costs of things we have to purchase. Our choice was to either make this increase or cut the services we provide in the people in the county. We did do some culling because we couldn't fund everybody's wish list and had to go with the more basic realistic numbers," he said.

Un-funded State mandates like the concealed weapon legislation will also take a toll on the budget in the coming year. Even though the county opted out on part of the mandates, they are still required to provide courtroom protection and it will cost another mill just to do that. There has also been a one-mill raise in the cost of road oil alone and this is just two of the costs that have gone up, Cooper said. As no one present came forward to question anything in the budget, Commission Chairman, Mike Cooper, asked for and received a motion to close the hearing. The commissioner's unanimously passed Resolution 6-14 to fund the budget as presented.

The Chairman opened the floor for the budget hearing on the three fire districts in the county including all three Mitchell County Rural Districts. The only representative from the districts was Bill Bunger, Asst. Fire Chief of District No. 3. Bunger said there are three districts in the county including District Number 1 that serves the Simpson area, District Number 2 that serves the Tipton area and District Number 3, which is the largest district and serves the rest of the county. District No. 1 and No. 2, overlap into Cloud and Ottawa Counties Number 3 does not.

Commissioner Tom Claussen, expressed praise and admiration for the work the rural fire district firefighters do. Bunger said they just think of it as "neighbor helping neighbor." The rural fire district budgets are as follows: District #1 - $41,530, District # 2 - $19,117 and District #3 - $46,911. Chairman Cooper called for a vote and the Commissioners approved the budget as presented and passed Resolution # 7-13.

Claussen noted he made a mistake last week when talking about the Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative, Inc. satellite office being in Smith Center as it is actually in Osborne. He talked to someone who works for Rolling Hills and was told that if the company does decided to move into one central office it will probably not be within the city limits of a town but will be built in a rural area since Rolling Hills serves the rural areas.

County Treasurer, Chris Treaster, told commissioners she has located someone to be caretaker and maintenance person of the West Asher Cemetery. Reece Smith, who is caretaker for several other cemeteries in the area, has agreed to take this job and also serve as the treasurer. The commissioners voted to approve Reece Smith to this position.

Ed Debesis, Emergency Medical Services, told commissioners he received the resignation of Paramedic Devon Walter, effective the last day of August. Walter will stay on for a short time basis. He is going to work for Lincoln County, his home county. Debesis said he has ads out looking for a replacement but this position is not easy to fill. He will have to go back to working extra hours if someone can't be found since they have to have a paramedic on each vehicle. They have two prospective candidates who will finish their classes in May and if they pass their certification they will be able to fill one of these positions. He will let commissioners know how this works out.

Debesis explained the situation with the new ambulance. He had a phone call Friday from the Chevy Dealership in Belleville that it was fixed and he could come get it. He had trouble with it on the trip back to Beloit. They have already replaced several different parts in it and it still isn't working. They are also having problems with the Chevy Chassis. Debesis is ready to start a class action lawsuit against Chevrolet and get their money back.

The unit has only been in service for three weeks since it was delivered and has been in the shop the rest of the time. The ambulance is now back in the shop in Belleville to be worked on. This is now out of the hands of the company it was purchased from. Chevy is not providing a loaner or paying the county down time during all this and is showing no desire to help with it or take care of the problem, Debesis said.

Chairman Cooper said he understands Ed's position but he would just as soon give them another chance and not start a lawsuit because then it will just sit and no one will do anything with it. Commissioner Claussen suggested Debesis contact Consumer Affairs and see if they can get anything started on this. Debesis will try this and report back to the commissioners.

Larry Emerson, Public Works, reported to the Commissioners he found out the bridge out by Micah Tice's farm that is located on L Road, one mile west off of Highway 14 is listed by the Kansas Historical Society as a Historic Bridge and they can't do anything to it until they do some more checking. John Cashatt, County Engineer, is trying to get more information on the bridge and will come talk to the commissioners next week.

Emerson said they are also having problems with the bridge up by Schmidt's. It is sitting on rock and they can't drill through it to set new piling. They will have to pump quite a bit of water out and pour the footings at the same time. They definitely have to do something as they already have the floor of the bridge taken off. They are still waiting for the dump truck body to come in. He hopes to have more information by next week.

Larry Sharp with KCAMP INSURANCE met with commissioners to update them on the liability and casualty part of their insurance with his company. Sharp said 2012 was an unusual year for KCAMP because for the first time they paid out more for the casualty and property claims than the liability claims. Most liability claims were for things like slips and falls at the courthouses that are insured.

Sharp asked if Mitchell County has used the Risk Management portion of their policy, which includes $2000 for the RAG or Risk Avoidance Grant. Clerk Treaster said they know about it and are in the act of using it right now. She explained the steps down to the courthouse basement on the north side of the building have a protective coating that is starting to come off. The sun never hits those steps. Brian Streit, Maintenance person is going to try to get the old coating off and they plan to replace it and put fans in Sharp advised they to have the work done and the paperwork sent in to his office by the middle of December.

The Commissioners went into a 10-minute executive session for non-elected personnel with Clerk Treaster present. No decisions were made and the meeting was adjourned.

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