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County budget passes without objection




Nary a peep was heard at the public hearing for the proposed 2014 county budget.

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Nary a peep was heard at the public hearing for the proposed 2014 county budget.

There was more discussion of whether to close a stretch of Old U.S. Highway 40 near Victoria while it is being resurfaced at the Ellis County Commission's regular meeting Monday night at Ellis County Courthouse.

The proposed 2014 budget is $26.5 million. The 2013 estimated expenditures are $19.5 million, with the approved budget at $20.8 million.

The proposed property tax levy for 2014 is $14.5 million, an increase of $370,000 from 2013. However, because of an increase in the value of taxable property, the mill levy is set to drop from 35.55 to 33.886.

"I still think it has a lot to do with oil" valuation, County Administrator Greg Sund said of the numbers.

The Ellis County Commission approved the 2014 budget 2-0. Commissioner Barbara Wasinger was absent.

In other business, commissioners heard a report from Public Works Director Mike Graf and Tom Bennett from BG Consultants about a 6.1-mile road resurfacing project from 280th Avenue to the railroad bridge entering Victoria. The project is expected to start next spring.

"Unless there's reason from your side of the table to push things along, we're looking at letting it (for bids) in November, December, and construction starting early the next construction season," Bennett told commissioners.

Traffic count is 1,825 vehicles per day. Commissioners were asked if they preferred traffic be allowed during the project -- which will last approximately two months -- or to close that portion of the road and detour traffic.

"My personal opinion is close the road," Commission Chairman Dean Haselhorst said.

Commissioner Swede Holmgren agreed, and commissioners voted 2-0 to close the road and detour traffic during construction.

In other business:

* Commissioners were given the monthly report from the public health department.

* Commissioners approved the annual WIC contract with Osborne County.

* For tax purposes, commissioners approved a declaration of a condominium of the Ellis County Administrative Center building at 718 Main.

* Commissioners were updated on a KDOT economic development grant, which has not been submitted yet.

* Commissioners were informed the county's cellphone contract with Nex-Tech was renewed last year. The contract is being updated, resulting in lower rates.

* A committee was formed to review candidates for the construction manager at risk position for county building projects. The committee will be comprised of Errol Wuertz, Sund, Graf and Holmgren.

* Commissioners approved renewal of the Motorola services agreement for the Public Safety Communications Center.

* Commissioners were reminded due to the Labor Day holiday, the next regular commission meeting will be Sept. 3.