Countywide bed tax approved

Staff reporter

Marion County Commission approved a six percent countywide transient guest tax Monday for motels and bed and breakfast businesses.

County economic development director Teresa Huffman presented and promoted the charter resolution to the commission. She suggested a six percent tax because of the size of the county. Huffman said the tax won't affect county residents and will bring in more money from outside the county.

Funds will be used for county tourism.

If the resolution passes, following a protest period, all motels and bed and breakfast businesses with more than three beds will be required to charge the additional fee to their customers.

Huffman said Hillsboro currently has a three percent "bed tax" and would be exempt from participating in the countywide program.

When Huffman was contacted after the meeting, she explained that the special tax is on a "first come, first served" basis and since Hillsboro already had the tax, an additional tax could not be imposed.

However, since the other cities in the county did not have the tax, the county could impose the tax through the charter resolution.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he was involved with a franchise tax through ATMOS Energy which can charge up to a five percent tax. He asked how Huffman arrived at the six percent amount.

Huffman responded that Topeka was six percent.

In other business:

— The commission gave permission to the Cottonwood Crossing Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association to erect signs on county road rights-of-way that would indicate the trail. The group recently received grant funding for the signs and there would be no cost to the county.

— The purchase of two computers for the county appraiser's office was approved. Great Plains Computers & Networking of Marion was the low bidder at $3,192 for the pair.

— Copier bids were reviewed with a decision to be made at Friday's meeting. The copier, located in the clerk's office, will replace a 14-year-old machine.

— County bridges on Kansas Department of Transportation's five-year construction program were reviewed. It was determined that one bridge might be able to be replaced in-house by county workers and other bridges were delayed a year. The county has to provide 20 percent matching funds for the projects.

Acting county public works director John Summerville asked if an engineer could be hired to determine the best method to repair about four miles of an asphalt road between Tampa and K-15.

Dallke asked if concrete was an option. Commissioner Dan Holub responded it wouldn't solve the issue of the road base. Summerville was instructed to consult with an engineer.

— Road rock will be added on a stretch of road on Old Mill after a new house is constructed and when the Marion Fire Department uses that road to reach a training area.

Another stretch of road on 120th between Sunflower and U.S.-77 will be rocked so residents can have access to their homes when the area floods.

— Summerville reported that Andy Krause had taken a look at the bridge on 310th and Chisholm Trail roads and determined he couldn't replace it because of the size. Summerville was told that it could cost the county $400,000 to replace that bridge.

It was determined that the bridge does not have to be replaced but could be repaired with plans made for an alternate route.

— The commission will review and make a decision regarding health insurance for county employees at Friday's meeting.

— County clerk Carol Maggard asked for and received a 10-minute executive session to discuss personnel with three commissioners. The meeting reconvened with no decisions.

— Dallke asked for and received a five-minute executive session for personnel with commission chairman Bob Hein. Commissioner Holub had left the meeting because he was ill. The meeting reconvened with no decisions.

— County attorney Susan Robson requested a 10-minute executive session with the commission for non-elected personnel with Marion Police Chief Josh Whitwell and Marion Police Officer Bob Soyez in attendance. The meeting reconvened with no decisions.

Dallke then asked for a 10-minute executive session with Hein to discuss personnel. The meeting reconvened with no decisions.

The next commission meeting is at 9 a.m. Friday at the commission room.