County news

Dickinson County has received more than $5,000 in sales tax collections in 2019 than at the same time last year.

County commissioners learned Thursday that the most recent sales tax report received from the state shows $109,193.04 was collected in March, which is $5,652.01 higher than in March 2018.

For the year, the county is up $38,927.19, bringing in $507,136.26 as of March, compared with $468,209.07 in March 2018.

Likewise, the collection trend is the same for the county’s special sales tax question. Money from this special half-cent sales tax can be used only to fund road and bridge projects.

The county received $490,239.53 in March for special sales tax collections. That’s an increase of $37,975.13 over the $452,264.40 received in 2018.

For the monthly breakdown, the county received $105,412.93 in March 2019 which was $5,807.33 higher than the $99,605.60 received in March 2018.

Early flooding costs

County Administrator Brad Homman thinks the May floods likely will cost the county about $100,000, when all is said and done.

So far, it’s cost $72,559 for tube replacement, rock, material, equipment, salaries and sand purchased to fill sandbags.

“We still don’t have numbers for what EMS accrued for staffing a station in Enterprise,” Homman said. “That will add to the cost.”

Forecasts were predicting that the Smoky Hill River south of Abilene and other creeks would cutoff the north and south ends of the county. In preparation for that possibility, an EMS crew was set up in Enterprise.

Some debris still needs to be cleaned up and culverts replaced, but county road and bridge crews will wait until the flooding danger is over.

“We’re not getting in any hurry to get that done. If the water comes back up again, it (the work) would be wasted,” Homman said.

Although water levels continue to recede, nearing normal levels, most lakes around Kansas are still at the brim.

“If we get any rain other than what soaks in, there’s no place for it go but the tributaries down into the rivers,” Homman said.

More fish-passage grants

Dickinson County has received two additional grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to replace two fish passage bridges in the southeastern half of the county.

The grants equate to $72,000, which covers the cost of materials. The county provides the labor.

County Engineer John Gough completed the grant paperwork, Homman said.

Bridges that qualify for the grants are in the habitat of the Topeka shiner, a tiny minnow that is on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s critical list of endangered species.

Because of the critical designation, any time a bridge in the habitat needs to be replaced, special regulations must be followed. Because of the increased cost of meeting the regulations, the federal government offers fish-passage grants to help fund the projects.

“They (Fish and Wildlife Service) have treated us well and continue to do so,” Homman said.

Road and bridge crews currently are trying to finish up two fish passage bridges, also grant-funded. Work must be completed outside the Topeka Shiner’s breeding season.

Employee turnover

The county continues to have trouble finding qualified employees. Currently, there are two openings in the road and bridge department and one in EMS. Five youths are working for the county as summer help, including four in road and bridge and one at the transfer station.

“They are working out well, so far,” Homman said. “We continue to search and recruit good staff.”

Other business

In other matters, the commission:

• Approved the 2019 solid waste management plan. Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson noted this is basically a “housekeeping item,” because the county is required under state law to have a plan and review it each year.

• Approved an update to county policy regarding drug and alcohol testing.

Each year, the county reviews its policies to ensure they are complaint with federal and state policies. The new policy affects only road and bridge employees because they are the only ones holding CDLs.

Homman said the primary change has to deal with hemp products and CBD oils. “If you use CBD oil on a muscle ailment, will you test positive for marijuana? This policy deals with some of those issues,” Homman said.

• Approved dispensing $6,500 in money budgeted for travel and tourism to the Dickinson County Economic Development Corporation to be distributed to cities in the county for the various festivals.

In previous years, the county set aside budget money to send people to the Kansas Sampler Festival as a way of promoting the county. Since the Sampler no longer exists, the county has been giving that money to cities to help fund the festivals.

• Heard from Commissioner Craig Chamberlin that he had visited an area on the Dickinson/Clay county line where four or five Amish families are settling. He said a road has been put in at a “bad spot.”

Homman said he had met with his staff about the situation and had talked with County Zoning and Planning Director Tim Hamilton.

“I made it very clear that when Tim communicates to them, that just because they have a building permit does not mean the road will be improved and the problems that may present to them in the future,” Homman said.

“We want them to do what they want to do, but it has to be within the physical constraints of the township and us,” he added.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.