Dickinson County elected officials and County Administrator Brad Homman received a 2 percent raise. The Dickinson County Commission unanimously approved the raises at the regularly scheduled meeting last Thursday at the courthouse.
In other action, the commission sent a letter to Kansas Secretary of Transportation Mike King protesting a possible fee to use a state radio system and complimented the county roads and bridges crews.
In his report to the commission, Homman said that the state of Kansas provides a statewide 800 MHz radio system.
“The state has roughly 76 radio towers across the state,” Homman said.
In the past the state has visited with agencies to get them to use that system, he said.
“At all of these meetings we have been told there would be no cost to utilize that system because the state has to have that in place for the Highway Patrol, KDOT and other state agencies,” Homman told the commissioners. “At a recent meeting they indicated they were now looking at charging local agencies to use that system.
“Our county doesn’t have a big stake in it,” Homman said, adding that there are about 10 radios using the state system in Dickinson County. Other counties rely more heavily on that system.
“The numbers that were mentioned at the meeting were anywhere from $100 to $400 per year, per radio,” he said. “That sparked a response from the emergency manager in Reno County as they have over 700 radios on the system. You can image the cost. The main thing is, we were told there would be no cost. In the long run, a reasonable fee might not be unreasonable. But $100 per radio to me is unreasonable. If it was a $10 or $15 a year fee, that would be different.
“I also want to point out that this system is far superior to any other state,” he said. “You can talk on a handheld radio here to someone in, say, Chanute just like we are talking here. It’s a very good system. Our regional council would hate to see them shoot themselves in the foot and to start charging local entities an unreasonable fee.”
The Dickinson County Commission approved a letter to Secretary King of the Kansas Department of Transportation, protesting a fee.
“We would strongly oppose KDOT implementing any subscriber fee for local agencies using the system,” the commission said in the letter.
“State officials encouraged any and all local entities who desired to convert their existing radio communications to this system. The primary selling points that they presented were that we, as local entities, would no longer have to maintain our own radio repeaters and towers, that we would have the benefit of using a new and state-of-the-art interoperable communication network, and we would be able to utilize the state’s networks of towers at no cost to our agencies since they were already in place. When KDOT funding fell short of completing the towers in the NW region of the state, our NC region allocated $122,875 out of our FY11 funds to help complete the state regional installation. It is our understanding that other regions did the same,” the letter, in part, said.
In his report on county roads and bridges, Homman said the county has completed 20 projects this year, including two bridges and 18 tube structures.
“That’s almost double what they usually do and they should be commended for that,” Homman said.
The commissioners intend to recognize those individuals at the next meeting.
Nold asked, “What’s the key?”
“Well, good personnel, first of all,” Homman said. “Good equipment that we’ve bought. We’ve been able to provide the equipment that works smarter. They can get so much more done with that piece of equipment; sometimes it takes just an hour when it would have taken a day before. We are working smarter and the crews work very diligently.
“Those guys are out there in the 110, 115 degree paving and heat chip sealing,” he said. “They work hard and have worked hard.”
“When we did our road and bridge tour, we noticed that the bridges they are building now are far superior. The welding and everything,” said Chairman LaVerne Myers.
All three commissioners commented on the joint meeting between city officials and county officials last Wednesday night. County Emergency Management Director Chancey Smith gave a presentation on his experience assisting with Maryland emergency management teams dealing in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
“In regard to last night’s meeting, the highlight for me was the example of cooperation that Chancey (Smith) provided in his presentation,” Commissioner Nold said.
“I think it’s good to get the cities and the county together,” Myers added.
Homman said Kaw Valley Engineering of Junction City has started working on the overlay project.
“They are out there measuring and it is not going to take them long to get the information we need,” said County Administrator Brad Homman. “That process is underway.”
The county commission also:
* set the Jan. 14 meeting for the swearing in of new commissioners Craig Chamberlin and Lynn Peterson;
* raised the solid waste fee from $15 to $18 a year;
* approved an agreement to provide law enforcement for the City of Solomon. The contract called for a 1 percent increase.
* approved indigent defense contracts for Gene Parrish, Joycelyn Lucas Randle, Mitch Christians and Clayton Kerbs; and indigent defense conflict contracts to Allen Angst, Brad Jantz, Jennifer Wyatt and Ralph DeZago.