Pottawatomie County commissioners Monday got their first glimpse of a design for a new ambulance station/sheriff’s department substation to serve the Blue Township area in the southwest portion of the county.

The design, presented by Clint Hibbs of BG Consultants and Brett Ballou of Schultz Construction, is for a 4,800-square-foot facility to be constructed along Green Valley Road on two county-owned lots in the northwest corner of the Green Valley Industrial Park.

The proposed design includes two drive-through bays for ambulances, a living area for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel and office space for sheriff’s deputies serving the area.

It also includes two safe-room restrooms designed to accommodate between 10 and 12 people each during severe weather, and secure vestibules allowing public access to the facility.

“This station will be different than our other EMS stations because it’s right out there in the public, and we expect people to be stopping in for blood pressure checks and other things,” said Hal Bumgarner, EMS director.

Commissioners suggested several minor tweaks in the design, including moving the structure slightly to the south in the event it wanted to expand the facility in the future to accommodate the Blue Township Fire Department.

The commission is expected to finalize the plan in the coming weeks, so construction can begin in August.

Officials identified construction of a new EMS station/sheriff’s office substation to serve the Blue Township area as a top priority for 2019. In April, the commission accepted Schultz’s low bid of $820,000 to build the facility.

EMS currently operates out of the former county wastewater treatment facility, which Pott County refitted late last year when it took over ambulance service in the area from Riley County EMS.

In other business Monday:

• Administrator Robert Reece presented a preliminary 2020 general fund budget reflecting a reduction of 1.75 mills in the property tax rate — from about 30 mills to 28.25 mills. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed, taxable property.

The budget proposal is a starting point for commissioners, who will begin budget discussions in the coming weeks in order to meet the July 29 deadline for publishing the proposed budget and setting a public hearing.

The proposed reduction in the property tax rate was made possible by a $94 million increase in the county’s assessed valuation for 2019.

The jump in assessed value was due largely to the expiration of a 20-year tax abatement for Jeffrey Energy Center and a $19 million increase in real estate values, which included $10 million in new construction.

• The commission heard a 2020 budget request of $459,505 from the Pottawatomie/Wabaunsee Regional Library.

The request represents an increase of $17,553 over the amount allocated by Pott County in 2019.

In presenting the library budget request, director Judith Cremer said both circulation and attendance were up in 2018 at the library’s eight branches in the two-county area.

More than 62,000 library loans were made in 2018, and the library served about 5,000 persons in the recent summer reading program, according to Cremer.

County funding for regional libraries is based on population and assessed valuation.

• Jim Jenkins, assistant public works director, said three rural roads are currently closed due to the wet spring.

Water seepage from the wet spring has plagued many gravel roads in the county, but has forced closure of only a few roadways, Jenkins said.

Commissioners expressed their gratitude to the road and bridge department for its work on rural roads following the harsh winter and wet spring.

“Thank the guys for us,” said Commission Chairman Travis Altenhofen. “Overall, the roads are getting back into shape for what we’ve had to deal with staffing and weather.”

Jenkins also reported that chip sealing would begin July 22 on 10 miles of county roads, as well as in the communities of Westmoreland, Louisville, Wheaton and Olsburg.

•Commissioners asked the St. Marys Senior Center to submit a request for funding to install a new epoxy floor in the center.

“They’ve made a lot of improvements over there — about $80,000 worth in the last few years,” said Commissioner Pat Weixelman, who met with senior center officials last week.

• The commission presented a certificate of appreciation to Alex Kinderknecht for 10 years of service with the sheriff’s department and fire services.