Marion County Commission approved two bond resolutions at its meeting Monday.
The first was bonds for the jail project worth $3,510,000.
“It’s been six years,” Commission Chairman Dan Holub said. “World War II took less time than this did.”
The interest rate on the bonds is 1.85 percent. Commissioners wanted to give local banks the first opportunity to purchase bonds but because of the low interest rates Marion County banks turned down the offer, commissioner Roger Fleming said.
Multiple investors, banks throughout Kansas, have purchased the bonds in $5,000 increments. Investors have a 2 percent interest rate on individual bonds. An added premium goes to investment bankers George K. Baum and Company for underwriting and other financial services.
The county will make two payments a year, paying the principal sum, between $200,000 in the first year and gradually increasing to $330,000 in 2023, and an interest payment in June, which slowly shrinks from $56,294 in 2012 to $3,600 in 2023.
George K. Baum representative David Arteberry said the county has the option of stockpiling sales taxes to remove the tax in 2015.
The commission approved a second bond resolution to refinance $110,000 worth of bonds for the transfer station. Those bonds also have a 1.85 percent interest rate.
The city of Marion approved a conditional use permit for the jail, commissioner Randy Dallke said.
After the meeting, Holub traveled to Topeka and testified before the Kansas tax committee in support of Marion County a bill requesting payment from TransCanada.
Holub reported that Rep. Bob Brookens had authored a bill in an attempt force TransCanada to make payments in lieu of taxes for the Keystone Pipeline, which was built and laid in Marion County in 2010.
The basis for the payment request is that documents for pipeline predate the tax exemption, granted by the Kansas legislature, by a year.
“Dickinson County tried this three years ago and the Attorney General threatened them, saying it was extortion,” Holub said.
Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman briefed the commission on recent business activity.
Three new businesses are starting in Florence. Two women are starting a “this and that” consignment shop, a couple is planning a railroad museum, and there are plans for a cooperative grocery store. Huffman also reported that the Harvey House Museum will be open to the public five days a week with volunteers to run the operation.
Huffman also talked about the county’s advertising efforts, placing ads in the Kansas visitors Guide and Travel Kansas magazine.
She recently spent time at a government symposium on the Flint Hills mainly thinking of ways to bring tourists to Marion County.
Huffman was also looking ahead to the future. She told the commission that horizontal drilling efforts are encroaching on the county and oil-drilling workers will need lodging.
In other business:
- Property owners Rick Hanschu and Kent Brunner were approved to place fences on both sides of Timber Road between 360th and 370th Roads. Hanschu agreed with Holub’s assessment of the road as nothing more than dirt ruts. Hanschu added that three waterways often flood the road. He wants it closed because teenagers from Herington use the road as a mud track after rainfall. Commissioners would not commit to closing the road, but decided to look into the possibility that the road had already been closed nearly 30 years prior, as Hanschu recalled.
- The commission approved $40,487 worth of 2-inch culverts. Thirty-eight culverts will be placed at 30th, 40th, 120th, and 330th roads, Road and Bridge Superintendent Randy Crawford said.
- The commission approved an easement for Garry Dunnigan to build a wall to siphon possible flood waters away from the property he is building at Marion County Lake. Dallke requested an engineering consultation to make sure the wall would function properly.
- Transfer Station Director Rollin Schmidt discussed cracks in the transfer station tipping floor. The commission determined the cracks were stress related and no repairs were necessary. Schmidt decided to have Eldon Hett come in and checkout possible metal work needed for the I-beam lip that juts out where trash is dumped.
- Crawford said the Road and Bridge Department would switch from Verizon to U.S. Cellular for its cell phone service.
- The commission advised County Clerk Carol Maggard to look into cheaper health insurance care for employees.
- Maggard told the council she is still looking for a custodian for the courthouse, annex, and health department buildings. Dallke suggested looking into a custodial service.
The next commission meeting is scheduled for Feb. 13.