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Commission approves pipeline plan

Rep. Brookens to attend luncheon with pipeline representatives

Staff writer

Despite concerns that a $2-million bond might not be enough to repair damage to county roads, Marion County Commissioners approved an agreement Monday with TransCanada for the Keystone Pipeline to go through the county.

County residents told Commissioner Bob Hein the bond wouldn’t be enough to repair damage caused by heavy equipment used in the pipeline project, Hein said. Commissioner Dan Holub arrived late at the meeting, but he left a note with a similar concern.

The company hasn’t posted a bond for more than $2 million in any county, and most bonds have been $1 million, TransCanada representative Tommy Darnell said. No county has cashed in a bond since the project began, and there are other safeguards in the agreement, Darnell added.

Holub’s note also said he was concerned about the use of the word “reasonable” in the agreement. He wanted to know who would decide what repairs are reasonable.

A third party inspector would probably make that determination, County Attorney Susan Robson said.

Darnell said he understood commissioners are sensitive about financial issues.

“I’m 99.9 percent sure you’re never going to cash that bond in,” he said.

After Holub arrived, Rep. J. Robert Brookens told commissioners he was invited to a luncheon with TransCanada representatives. He wanted commissioners to know beforehand, and he said he will share anything he learns at the luncheon.

In other business:

  • The county is waiting for an opinion from the Kansas Attorney General’s Office about financing a new jail through a flat per-taxpayer tax. If the response isn’t favorable, the next step would be legislation, Holub said. Brookens said he would be willing to sponsor a bill that would allow the county to levy a flat tax per property owner to finance construction.
  • Two bridges were placed on the county’s five-year replacement plan. One is on 310th Road, east of Eagle Road, and the other is on 170th Road, west of Bluestem Road.
  • Commissioners met in closed session for 10 minutes to discuss personnel. Before the closed session, commissioners remarked that they needed to discuss pay of Road and Bridge Department employees John Summerville and Mark Heiser. No action was taken on return to open session.
  • Goessel Senior Center has increased its daily lunch attendance enough that it isn’t in immediate danger of losing its lunch program, Department on Aging Director Gayla Ratzlaff said.
  • Department on Aging will purchase a laptop computer from Great Plains Computers and Networking in Marion for $1,349. Office Max of Wichita bid $940, and Best Buy of Wichita bid $818, but commissioners wanted to make the purchase in the county.
  • Results from a survey of county employees showed that 37 want to keep monthly paydays, and 36 responded in favor of twice-monthly paydays.
  • Transfer station employee Joe Vinduska received a raise from $1,921 to $2,094 per month for his promotion from equipment operator I to equipment operator II.

The next commission meeting will be Friday.

Last modified Feb. 24, 2010

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