County news

Dickinson County Commissioners approved the first round of funding to reimburse municipalities and school districts for COVID-19 related expenses.

The commission on Thursday approved a resolution to distribute $530,062.07 to Dickinson County cities and school districts that submitted the required receipts and justifying paperwork for reimbursement.

Dickinson County received $3.6 million Tuesday from the state’s Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Taskforce Executive Committee, charged with distributing more than a billion dollars in federal funds Kansas received as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The county is the fiscal agent in charge of distributing the funds.

Once the county received the money from the state, it began the process of distributing funds to qualifying entities.

“So now we have the ability to distribute that money out to the cities (and school districts) that have been able to get their recipients to us that we have been able to vet and approve,” said County Administrator Brad Homman.

He noted this is the first round of distributions and the county will likely have rounds two, three and four.

A meeting was held earlier this week with county superintendents, some school board members, city representatives, Dr. Brian Holmes (county health officer) and others to discuss the funding.

“All the cities and school districts have done a really good job giving us the reports we need to justify those expenditures,” Homman said, but noted some are “taking a little longer than others.”

Homman said the entities receiving funding will be placed on the county website at dkcoks.org, along with the resolution and other documents pertaining to the SPARKS program “so the public has the ability to see that and digest that as well,” he commented.

The county expects to receive other rounds of funding through SPARKS and CARES geared to help businesses and others.

Special assessments

During the July 16 meeting it was reported that 16 of 20 parcels sold at auction July 13 during the county’s annual sale of properties with delinquent taxes.

Commissioner Craig Chamberlin on Thursday asked about the four properties that did not sell and if they had been up for sale in previous years.

County Counselor Doug Thompson said he believed they had and commented that one property has $16,000 in special assessments.

“Those won’t sell until those special assessments expire,” Thompson explained. “If you’re the purchaser you’re paying for the next year’s taxes. So even if you bought it for $1 you are still paying $16,000.”

As for the properties that did sell, Thompson said some brought in more money than the amount of taxes owed so the excess will “work its way back to the prior owner.”

Thompson thanked commissioners for paying publication costs and attorney fees for the sale, which were higher than usual because the auction was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

“Thank goodness it is done so I didn’t have to do it a fourth time in the same year,” Thompson said.

Thompson will return to court Aug. 4 to obtain approval of the sale. Afterwards, deeds will be sent out to buyers who purchased the real estate.

Disaster

declaration

renewed

The commission voted to renew the county’s COVID-19 disaster declaration for an indefinite time.

“I think we all agree the COVID issue is here to stay right now,” Homman said.

The county first declared a COVID-19 state of disaster for 60 days on March 21, then renewed it for an additional 60 days on May 21. That second renewal expired July 21.

“The disaster declaration makes the county eligible for any federal or state assistance that might be required or needed.

“So far that assistance has come in the form of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and things of that nature,” Homman added. “It keeps us in the ballgame and makes it available to us.”

Other

• Station 2 EMS in Herington once again is having issues with foundation settling, Homman said. Since work done last year by a Wichita company is still under warranty, representatives will come back and install a couple more piers.

The only cost to the county will be relocating EMS crews to a temporary location while the work is done and repairing the floor, carpet and tile when work is completed, he said.

Homman also reported that air sanitizers and air scrubbers had been installed in most of the county buildings. During work session Health Department Director John Hultgren reported it made a noticeable difference at the health department/EMS building.

The courthouse was the only building where the air systems were not installed due to the fact it will be renovated later this year and because the courthouse offices have “registers.”

• Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson commented he continues to receive comments, texts and emails from people who have concerns about the county’s mask mandate. Others have concerns involving schools’ reopening.

Peterson said he knows school administrators, board members and others are working diligently preparing for school to reopen.

Peterson also commended county staff who have worked long hours due to COVID-19, attending meeting after meeting and handling other tasks while still completing their day-to-day tasks.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com

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

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