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Interlocal agreement gets nod; logo a no-go for county

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Ellis County commissioners wasted no time approving an interlocal agreement in Monday night's regular meeting at the Ellis County Courthouse.

Deciding on a county logo was another matter.

Hays city commissioners agreed to an interlocal agreement in Thursday's meeting, giving the county its share of a proposed county sales tax. Commissioners also agreed to a letter of understanding that the county commissioners would drop legislation for a dedicated sales tax that would have given the county 100 percent of the revenue.

County commissioners unanimously approved the interlocal agreement and letter of understanding in Monday's meeting. The agreement now moves on to the Kansas Attorney General for approval.

"They were very positive and very helpful," county commissioner Barbara Wasinger said of the city commission. "Very appreciative of their support for us in this endeavor."

With the city's share of a sales tax coupled with its own, the county has approximately 90 percent of the revenue that would be generated through a proposed 0.5-percent sales tax. To reach 100 percent, the county needs interlocal agreements with the three other incorporated cities in the county: Ellis, Victoria and Schoenchen.

With an interlocal agreement with the city of Hays in hand, Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund now will meet with city leaders from Ellis, Victoria and Schoenchen. Joining Sund when he makes his presentations will be one of the three county commissioners.

The county has the authority to issue bonds not to exceed $14.5 million for construction of an EMS/rural fire building, expansion and renovation to the county jail and courthouse and renovations to buildings at 718 Main and 601 Main. Those last two renovation projects either could be part of the sales tax or paid for in the county's budget. The sales tax is subject to voter consideration in an election either this spring or summer.

The county didn't have a logo going into the meeting, and when it was finished still didn't have one. Wasinger and commission chairman Dean Haselhorst both liked the logo presented, which has a head of wheat and a star representing the location of Ellis County. Commissioner Swede Holmgren said he was concerned with the logo.

"We are not the Lone Star state; Texas is," Holmgren said of the logo. "This looks like the Soviet flag minus the sickle and hammer, the old Soviet flag."

After commissioners discussed alternatives -- some more serious than others -- no action was taken.

"I want to be different, even if you put an oil rig or oil derrick in there," Holmgren said.

In other business:

* Commissioners heard the monthly report from Holly Dickman at the county Extension service. Dickman said she already is receiving calls about trees suffering from drought-related stress.

* Commissioners heard a report from John Trembley, director of Northwest Kansas Community Corrections. Trembley said they have one of the lowest recidivism rates in the state and a very intensive drug testing and surveillance program.

* Commissioners were presented with the monthly report from the health department.

* Commissioners were presented the final jail report as part of the county's planned expansion and renovations. Representatives from the consultant, Carter Global Lee, will give a presentation in person either at the  March 4  or  March 18  meeting.

* Commissioners were presented with the monthly financial report.

* Commissioners discussed an easement request from Southern Star Pipeline. No action was taken.

* Commissioners were informed by Sund of Doonan Truck and Equipment's request to expand its business and is considering application for a sales tax exemption. No action was taken.

* Commissioners were informed by Sund counties will not have an option in the future regarding whether to tax severed minerals. Sund said the state is planning to enforce language currently in state law that requires taxation.