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Commission sends sales tax resolution to state

County faces ambulance volunteer shortage

Staff writer

Marion County Commission approved a resolution Monday to impose a 0.5 percent sales tax to pay for a new jail, sheriff’s office, and 911 facility.

Voters approved the measure, 1,704-969, April 5.

The resolution will be sent to the state to begin tax collections. Commission Chairman Roger Fleming said the tax could begin collections as soon as July 1. The state has 90 days to prepare, and sales tax can only change the first day each quarter, so it could begin as late as Oct. 1.

The commission will meet with architect Andy Pitts of Treanor Architects P.A., bond counsel David Arteberry, and Sheriff Rob Craft on Monday to begin preparations for bid-letting and bond sales.

Shortage of EMT volunteers

Emergency Medical Services Director Steve Smith told the commission that some ambulance units are struggling to have emergency medical technicians on-call at all times.

“Our staffing shortages are getting crazy,” Smith said.

The Peabody and Florence units are kept staffed largely because of a few thoroughly dedicated volunteers, Smith said. Each of those units has a volunteer who takes 500 hours on-call each month, without whom the unit wouldn’t be available at all hours.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he didn’t think he would ever be the one to suggest it, but that the county may have to reconsider how ambulance services are offered.

“I do feel like we’re coming to a crossroads,” Smith said.

The county may need to consider establishing a full-time service with paid EMTs, he said. Smith suggested the commission may want to establish an advisory committee to discuss options, similar to Marion County Public Safety and Law Enforcement Center Committee, which discussed options for a jail.

Dallke said he first wants to make a push to get more volunteers before making a decision like that.

Keeping two ambulances fully staffed at all times would require 17 full-time employees.

Emergency manager starts

Dan D’Albini began work Monday as emergency management director. He met with commissioners and Interim Communications Director Linda Klenda.

D’Albini told the commission he hopes to work at least one-half of a shift each week as a dispatcher, to re-familiarize himself with the department and to get used to the new system. He previously was a dispatcher for the county in 2007 and 2008.

Commissioner Dan Holub said he wants D’Albini and Klenda cross-trained so they can fill in for each other.

The commission had several consecutive closed sessions to discuss personnel. They had a 10-minute closed session with Klenda, a 5-minute closed session with just the commission, a 25-minute closed session with County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman, a 10-minute closed session with Bateman and County Clerk Carol Maggard, and a 5-minute closed session with Maggard. They then met in closed session with Klenda again for five minutes.

On return to open session, the commission announced Klenda will remain interim communications director until D’Albini is familiarized with emergency management duties. At that time, the commission will consider making Klenda assistant communications and emergency management director.

In the meantime, Klenda’s pay rate will remain at $18.70 per hour. Commissioners approved a salary of $3,500 per month — $42,00 per year — for D’Albini.

In other business:

  • County Attorney Susan Robson met with the commission in closed session for five minutes to discuss personnel. No action was taken on return to open session.
  • Rep. J. Robert Brookens gave the commission an update on legislation under consideration. He said he thinks three proposed bills that would increase state property tax by a total of 6.5 mills will all fail. He said legislation is moving slowly because of a bottleneck created by a new software system.
  • Road and Bridge Department will purchase 6,000 gallons of diesel and 2,000 gallons of gasoline from Cooperative Grain and Supply of Hillsboro for $28,916. Cardie Oil Company of Tampa bid $29,102.
  • Road and Bridge employee Robert Shippy received a raise from $2,232 to $2,354 per month for working in the department 10 years.
  • Road and Bridge employee Brent Heyen received a raise from $2,191 to $2,265 per month for his one-year anniversary in the department.
  • The commission followed the Planning and Zoning Board’s recommendation to reject a request to convert a garage into a residence at 10 Rock Road at the county lake. The building already has an upstairs apartment, and converting the garage would make it a multi-family structure.
  • Transfer Station Director Rollin Schmidt met with commissioners in closed session for five minutes to discuss personnel. No action was taken on return to open session.
  • Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman announced Emil Kapaun was selected as one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas in the people category.

The next commission meeting is Monday.

Last modified April 14, 2011

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