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Firm hired to seek millions in grants

Staff writer

The county’s McPherson-based accounting firm was hired Monday to help the county seek and administer up to $2.038 million in new American Rescue Plan federal pandemic grants in the county.

Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk, and Loyd, which also handles county budgeting, will take 5% of each grant as compensation for helping with application, evaluation, and enforcement procedures.

“This time, there’s a lot more hoops to jump through to prove that you’re using it for their purpose,” accounting firm partner Scot Loyd told commissioners.

Commissioners’ eyes lighted up when told it might be possible to use pandemic relief money to pay for construction of at least a portion of a long-sought office annex for county departments.

Commissioners debated what will happen to space now occupied by extension offices. Extension has used its newfound status as a separate taxing unit to purchase its own building, the former Shawmar Oil and Gas offices at 1116 E. Main St., Marion.

Several suggested that extensive repairs might be needed to the current building, which originally housed welfare offices and now also houses administrative and training offices for the county’s ambulance service.

Suggestions included moving ambulance offices to the current ambulance station in Marion or — at the interjected suggestion of commissioner Kent Becker — to a new ambulance station being constructed in Hillsboro.

Eventually, the county would like to provide quarters for its health department, now renting space from St. Luke Hospital, and its planning and zoning office, which rents space at a former chiropractic clinic.

On Monday, commissioners approved a one-year extension of a $600-a-month lease for that space from Panzer Chiropractic Clinic. The 1,200-square-foot planning and zoning office and accompanying land at 203 S. 3rd St. in Marion together are valued at $28,210 on county appraisal records.

In other business:

  • TAXES — Loyd asked commissioners to submit any desired changes by Friday before he presents on Monday a budget that proposes a tax rate of 75 mills — a 1.4% decline from current rates but a 12.9% increase in total taxes because of changes in county assessments. The proposal will be subject to public hearings next month both on the budget itself and on increasing taxes above what state law considers a revenue-neutral rate.
  • SURVEILLANCE — Commissioners voted to spend $1,594 for two additional surveillance cameras for the county’s waste transfer station. The goal is to identify people avoiding fees by dumping trash after hours.
  • LAKE — Commissioner Dave Crofoot said engineers would visit the county lake this week to assess storm damage to the lake’s dam. Its destroyed heated fishing dock also is scheduled to be removed from the water this week.

Last modified Aug. 12, 2021

 

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