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County seeks issuance of bonds

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

In Monday's regular meeting, Ellis County commissioners, acting as the Public Building Commission, unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the issuance of general obligation bonds to finance the proposed new EMS/Rural Fire building; renovation to Ellis County Courthouse and Ellis County jail; and administrative building renovation projects at 718 Main and 601 Main.

The commissioners made a motion in Monday's meeting to authorize the Public Building Commission to oversee the issuance of bonds to finance the projects.

The estimated cost of the projects is $14.5 million. The cost for the EMS/Rural Fire building is $4 million; $9 million for courthouse and jail renovations; $670,000 for Commerce Bank Building renovations at 718 Main; and $330,000 for renovation at 601 Main.

The project would be funded through a dedicated countywide sales tax, subject to voter consideration in a special election this spring or summer.

"I think we need to point out the space needs committee has been working on this for a very long time," said Commissioner Barbara Wasinger. "This is hard decision-making; they really worked hard on this.

"They solicited advice from department heads and took into consideration public safety and absolute space needs for these different groups."

Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund said if there were two questions on the ballot, the sales tax would be 0.25 percent on each question. If there is one ballot question, the sales tax would be 0.5 percent.

"If we go with two questions on the ballot, we would have to divide it 0.25 and 0.25, which means it would last different lengths of time, because they're different size projects," Sund said.

Commissioners also approved a charter resolution that, in part, would authorize the selling of bonds to finance proposed road projects on Old U.S. Highway 40. That portion of the resolution would be subject to a bond election if sufficient signatures are presented before the 60-day referendum period. Also part of the resolution is refinancing the 2008 Kansas Department of Transportation Revolving Loan.

In other business:

* Approved the purchase of two water trucks for Rural Fire District No. 1, with one truck to be located in Victoria and the other in Ellis.

Total cost for each truck is $167,832. I-70 Truck Repair, North Highway 183, won the bid for truck chassis in the amount of $177,074. Hays Fire and Rescue Sales and Service won the bid for the tanks in the amount of $158,590.

Commissioner Dean Haselhorst said the trucks are expensive.

"It's a glorified water truck" he said.

"It meets National Fire Protection Association standards," said Rural Fire Chief Dick Klaus. "If something ever happens, we have something backing us."

* Approved a resolution authorizing refinancing of Eighth Street Bridge Project KDOT Revolving Loan.

* Approved appointment of Gary Haas to position of weed supervisor.

* Heard a monthly Extension report.

* Approved new fire truck financing for Company No. 2 in Catharine.

* The monthly health report was submitted.

* Approved a resolution for accounts and reports waiver. This waiver needs to be done annually and sent to the state.

* Sund, who appeared before the Hays City Commission during last week's work session, can't appear before the commission's Thursday meeting to discuss the dedicated sales tax. Commissioner Haselhorst will appear in his place.

* Received an invitation to the county fair board meeting. However, only one commissioner at a time can attend, due to Kansas Open Meetings Act.

* Approved by 2-1 vote, with Commissioner Swede Holmgren dissenting, to pay the bill for $20,027 as presented by Commerce Bank for replacement of an air conditioning condensing unit on building at 718 Main. At last week's meeting, commissioners approved an amended motion to seek recovery of sales tax on the bill. However, if a project is to be tax exempt, it must apply for authorization prior to commencement of the project. That was not done in this case, as Commerce Bank went forward with the project without prior approval from the commission.

"I did communicate with the people at Commerce Bank, make sure they don't spend any more money if they expect us to reimburse them, without first contacting us," Sund said.

Commissioners requested Sund get that agreement in writing.

* Discussed change in meeting day before deciding to keep it the same.