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Commission to consider sales tax agreement

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

The city of Hays is on board. Now, Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund will ask Ellis County commissioners to do the same in Monday's 6:45 p.m. meeting at the Ellis County Courthouse.

Hays city commissioners agreed Thursday to an interlocal agreement to give the county its share of a proposed 0.5-percent county sales tax. City commissioners also agreed to a letter of understanding stating the county commissioners would drop legislation for a dedicated sales tax that would give the county 100 percent of revenue.

"I think it's a good thing," Sund said of the city commissioners' decision. "If we can deal with things on a local basis without having to resort to legislation, I think that promotes cooperation between the governments."

If the county commissioners give their approval, then the agreement is forwarded to the Kansas Attorney General's office for its approval.

Combining the city of Hays and the county's share of a sales tax would give the county 90 percent of revenue generated. To reach 100 percent, the other incorporated cities in the county -- Ellis, Victoria and Schoenchen -- also would have to reach an interlocal agreement with the county.

"We now have a document I can approach the other cities (with)" Sund said. "There's more than one benefit. We can talk about the interlocal agreement, but it also gives me an opportunity to talk about the project, too."

The sales tax would go toward the construction of an EMS/rural fire building, as well as expansion and renovation of the county jail and courthouse. Renovations to 718 Main -- where most county offices would be relocated -- and to the health department at 601 Main would either be part of the sales tax or paid off through the county's budget.

The county has been given the authority to issue bonds not to exceed $14.5 million for the project, but Sund expects the cost to be lower, somewhere between $11.5 million and $12 million. He said the county's consultants have estimated it could take approximately 4.5 years to pay for the project, allowing the tax to sunset at that time.

The city of Hays currently has a 0.5-percent sales tax which was used to construct Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex. That sales tax ends March 31.

Among items in other business, commissioners:

* Will consider a resolution for acquiring a lease/purchase for a fire truck that will be assigned to Company 2 in Catharine.

* Will consider awarding bid for insurance for Ellis County Fire District No. 1.

* Will receive reports from county extension services, community corrections and county health department.

* Will discuss an in-person report for jail study and consider a county logo.

* * *

Ellis County commissioners will have a special meeting at 1:30 p.m. Monday at 601 Main.

Topics for the commissioners' planning session include building projects/sales tax; county priorities and 2014 budget goals and objectives.