The Pottawatomie County Commission on Monday approved a plan for $4.9 million in federal reimbursements through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The overall county plan, due to the state by Saturday, is an amalgamation of reimbursement requests from cities, school districts, businesses and other agencies in the county.
Pott County’s $4.9 million allocation from the CARES Act was based on $202.26 for each of the county’s certified population of 24,383 as of July 1.
The final financial tabulation approved Monday includes $999,516 for cities, $1.01 million for school districts, $400,000 for businesses, $1.09 million for county reimbursements, and $1.42 million for the county plan — a list of proposed expenditures submitted by department heads.
“This is kind of a Christmas list,” Commissioner Pat Weixelman said of the 10 tentative expenditures with an estimated cost of $1.4 million.
“This will be scrutinized very, very hard,” he said. “I’m just laying that out there, so everybody knows how I’m looking at this thing.”
Proposed projects on the county plan list include a new communication tower, remodeling in the county office building, technology upgrades and medical equipment for EMS.
In other business Monday, the commission:
• Approved the 2021 budget as presented, following a 10 a.m. hearing during which there was no public input.
The budget decreases the overall county tax levy from 28.256 mills to 27.664 mills. A mill is $1 in tax for every $1,000 in assessed, taxable property value.
The lower tax rate will translate into a reduction of $13.62 in the amount of property tax paid on a $200,000 home, according to Heather Gladbach, finance officer.
“I think it’s been something we’ve been working toward,” Weixelman said of the lower tax rate. “Any time we can get a little decrease, it’s a good thing.”
“I think it reflects well on department heads,” said Commissioner Greg Riat. “They’re running good, tight ships.”
• Deferred action on lowering the speed limit on Elm Slough Road until additional traffic information is gathered.
The reduction in speed was requested several weeks ago by several residents who voiced concerns about safety along Elm Slough between Vineyard and Rockenham roads.
A traffic survey conducted by the sheriff’s department near the intersection of Elm Slough and Salzer roads counted 458 vehicles over a four-day period (July 23-26).
The vast majority of the vehicles (98.25%) were traveling slower than the posted 55 mile-per-hour speed limit, while the remainder (1.75%) were faster, according to the survey.
The 85th percentile — the speed which most drivers feel is safe for the conditions — is 46 miles-per-hour, prompting Public Works Director Peter Clark to recommend reducing the speed limit to 40 or 45 mph.
Riat said he favored the lower speed limit, but first wanted additional traffic studies on Elm Slough closer to Flush Road and K-99.
Weixelman, however, questioned the advisability of changing the speed limit.
“Are we going to start changing the speed limits all over the county?” he asked. “Once we start this you’re going to have people up here every other week wanting their speed changed. Just get ready for the onslaught.”
• Authorized Clark to transfer monies from two Road & Bridge funds to purchase an additional $250,000 and $300,000 worth of rock for gravel roads.
Adding rock to rural roads has been on pause since the county reached its 2020 rock budget about a month ago.
“Due to the extreme conditions we’ve seen over the last 18 months, I think it’s justified to go over budget in the amount of rock,” Clark said.
Clark said both the fuel and personnel services line items in the Road & Bridge Department were well under budget for the year.
• Authorized Clark to seek a grant through the Kansas Department of Transportation to replace a bridge on Overland Road, northwest of Onaga.
Due to its higher traffic volume and low sufficiency rating, Clark felt the bridge had a good chance of being funded through KDOT’s off-system bridge grant program.
Clark also reviewed five other bridges with low sufficiency ratings, most of which were low-volume, end-of-the-line bridges.
Commissioners suggested Clark approach landowners to see if a low-water crossing would suffice so the county could eliminate those bridges from its system.
• Endorsed a plan by David Arteberry, the county’s bond counsel, to consolidate temporary notes for subdivision financing to save money and administrative time.
“This is sort of a new approach to financing your benefit district projects,” Arteberry told commissioners.
Arteberry will return in late August, at which time the commission is expected to authorize consolidation of seven current temporary notes and add two more.
• Learned there were 199 mortgages filed in July with the register of deeds with a total indebtedness of more than $47 million — almost double the amount during the same period last year.
“July was very busy,” Registrar Betty Abitz told commissioners. “I’ve got an awesome staff. I’m very proud of the girls. They’re doing a great job.”