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Fire marshal to review jail decision

Staff writer

The Kansas State Fire Marshal’s office will review its declaration that Marion County Jail can only hold four inmates, County Attorney Susan Robson told commissioners Monday.

She said the decision to review the case was based on architect Tony Rangel’s calculation that the upstairs of the jail should be allowed to hold 20 people including staff.

Rangel made his calculation Friday after Robson received a clarification from the fire marshal’s office about how to calculate allowable capacity. The capacity is based on total floor space of the floor, not on a per-cell basis, Robson said after the meeting.

Robson said she would attempt to schedule a phone conference between commissioners and Brenda McNorton, director of the fire marshal’s prevention division.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke brought up an idea for how the county could comply if the ruling remains unfavorable for the county after the review. He suggested the county could move the sheriff’s department and emergency communications department out of the building and convert it entirely to jail space.

Jail fee would make selling bonds difficult

Bond consultant David Arteberry of George K. Baum and Company told commissioners that a July attorney general’s opinion stating a proposed flat fee to pay for a jail had never been attempted would make selling bonds difficult. Investors would be reluctant to buy bonds because of the proposed fee’s unclear legal status.

The fee was proposed in November by Marion County Public Safety and Law Enforcement Center Committee.

If the county went forward with the fee, and someone successfully sued to stop it, the county would still be obligated to pay the bonds, Arteberry said.

Goessel resident Tony Epp said that, absent a prohibitive statute, the county should be able to use whatever funding method county taxpayers support.

The county could spend millions of dollars to renovate the existing jail, and it would still be an old building, Epp said. If the county does issue bonds, he said he would like to see bonds sold locally. That would keep some of the interest paid in the county.

Marion County Public Safety and Law Enforcement Center Committee will meet at 7 p.m. today at the Hillsboro City Building.

In other business:

  • The 2011 budget, which will include a 1.76-percent increase in property taxes, was approved.
  • Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman wants businesses’ input on what kinds of training would be most beneficial with a $25,000 grant. The grant will also pay for a youth entrepreneurship program.
  • The county will pay Creek Electric of Wichita $6,175 for electrical repairs in the courthouse, including replacing two circuit breaker boxes.
  • Lori Smithhart was hired as an office worker for the sheriff’s department at $9 an hour.
  • Daniel Dalke will work for the Road and Bridge Department for $11 an hour. He will be filling in while a full-time employee is unavailable because of health problems.
  • Appraiser’s employee Brian Frese received a raise from $2,047 to $2,147 a month for his one-year anniversary. Appraiser’s employee Ryan Janzen received a raise from $1,664 to $1,907 a month for his one-year anniversary and a promotion from data collector to appraiser I.
  • Emergency Medical Services will buy a printer, copier, and fax machine from Dick’s Business Machines of Emporia for $4,962 with a service plan for $25 per month. The machine will replace an old copier that is difficult to get replacement parts for and a printer that has been leaving lines on printouts.
  • County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman met with commissioners in closed session to discuss personnel for 20 minutes. No action was taken on return to open session.
  • Transfer Station Director Rollin Schmidt showed commissioners a bagel-cut tire from a visit he made to Morris County’s transfer station. The machine they showed him was quicker and safer than a machine used to quarter tires to be sent to a landfill. Butler County Landfill will not accept whole tires.

The next commission meeting will be Tuesday.

Last modified Aug. 26, 2010

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