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Tax exemption only lasts fraction of pipeline's expected lifespan

Staff writer

Jim Prescott of TransCanada — the company constructing the Keystone oil pipeline — said Monday that the pipeline could function for 100 years with normal maintenance. He made the comment in a meeting with Marion County Commission regarding road crossing permits.

Prescott said there are pipelines operating now that are 50 to 60 years old, responding to Harry Bennett, of rural Marion, asking the expected lifespan of the pipeline.

Prescott said he understands frustration by commissioners and residents about a possible property tax exemption, but the exemption only lasts 10 years. The company could possibly be the largest taxpayer in the county for the following 90 years, he said.

It is only fair that the company pay property taxes, because its investment will be protected by local firefighters and law enforcement, Bennett said.

Commission Chairman Dan Holub said Prescott and TransCanada representative Tommy Darnell aren’t the cause of the commissioners’ frustration. He said the commissioners’ issue is with the state legislators who approved the exemption legislation.

Commissioners and TransCanada representatives were unable to reach an agreement on road crossing permits because of a paperwork mix-up. Holub said County Attorney Susan Robson would be in touch with TransCanada’s project attorney to reach an agreement for the permits.

The company plans to bore under all public roads the pipeline crosses, rather than digging a trench. The pipeline will cross roads a minimum depth of 5 feet underground, Darnell said. Mid-May is the earliest the company could begin moving dirt in the county, he said.

Florence City Council member Ed Robinson attended the meeting. TransCanada plans to unload pipe sections from the railroad in Florence.

The commission will invite state Sen. Jim Barnett and state Reps. Bob Brookens and Jay Emler to meet with commissioners at 7 p.m. Jan. 7 at USD 408 Performing Arts Center in Marion. The meeting will concern the pipeline property tax exemption.

In other business:

  • Newly hired Marion County Sanitarian and Zoning Director Tonya Richards received a raise to accompany her new position. Her salary increased from $2,260 to $2,556 per month.
  • Marion Country Club, Inc., renewed its class B club license to serve liquor. The renewal required a $100 fee.
  • Gayle Township will have 10 days to respond to Canada Bait and Tackle’s request to renew its cereal malt beverage license before commissioners take action.
  • The City of Marion sent a letter saying it intended to raise fees to collect trash at Marion County Park and Lake. If the county doesn’t terminate the agreement that has been in place since 2005, the county’s bill would increase $2,250 per year. Commissioner Randy Dallke said the county should put the contract up for bids.
  • Commissioners will meet with Dickinson County Commission, extension service representatives from both counties, and a representative from Kansas State University at 2 p.m. Monday in Abilene to discuss the possible formation of a shared extension district.
  • Road and Bridge Superintendent John Summerville met with commissioners in closed session for 10 minutes to discuss personnel. No action was taken on return to open session.
  • Communications employee Jerrie “Chris” Edwards received a one-year anniversary raise, from $12.13 to $12.96 per hour.
  • The communications department will purchase a new server and software from Great Plains Computers and Networking of Marion for $2,800, including shipping.
  • The sheriff’s department encumbered $8,000 to replace video cameras in the jail and $6,000 to replace a five-year-old server.
  • Commissioners met in closed session for 35 minutes to discuss personnel. No action was taken on return to open session.

The next commission meeting will be Monday.

Last modified Dec. 9, 2009

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