The Pottawatomie County Commission Monday gave its approval to solicit bids for a new fleet maintenance facility with an estimated cost of $1.98 million.

The facility is the most costly of 13 capital improvement projects authorized by the commission this fiscal year at a total estimated cost of $3.5 million.

The facility has been on the commission’s radar for several years and was cited in a 2015 space needs assessment as a top priority for the county.

The plan proposes erecting a 132-foot-by-80-foot metal building on a tract south of the current shop yard purchased in February from the city of Westmoreland.

The facility will include offices, a shop area, inventory space and five bays for maintenance of county vehicles.

The commission authorized the bid-letting after reviewing information regarding questions raised last week about the project itself and the status of the county’s Capital Improvement (CIP) Fund.

Commissioner Pat Weixelman, who posed questions about the project, seconded the motion to proceed to bid “because (public works director Peter Clark) got skin in the game. He’s made a good valiant effort to get this thing in motion.”

The road and bridge department, Weixelman noted, has transferred $1.4 million toward the project from its budget over the past two years — $1.1 million last year and $300,000 just last week.

The county began the fiscal year with about $6.2 million in its CIP Fund. With Monday’s approval of the fleet maintenance facility, commissioners have committed to projects totaling about $3.5 million, according to figures provided by administrator Chad Kinsley.

Five pending capital projects have an estimated cost of about $1.8 million, although approval of those projects remains in question.

“We’ve spent a lot of money this past year, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s time to put the breaks on some of these projects,” Weixelman said.

In other business Monday:

• Kinsley and Clark said Wamego city officials have proposed a 50/50 split with the county on the $40,000 cost to design installation of a traffic light at the intersection of U.S. Highway 24 and Columbian Road just west of Wamego.

The county would provide in-house inspection for the project (a value of about $60,000), and the city would assume future electrical costs of the traffic light, according to the proposal.

“Why would we pay 50%? Why not 75/25?” asked commission chairman Travis Altenhofen after Clark noted that the city controls three of the four corners of the intersection.

“I’m in favor of getting that fixed,” commissioner Dee McKee said of the traffic light. “We’ve been talking about it quite a while.”

If county and city officials can reach agreement on design cost and inspection, they will seek construction funding through the Kansas Department of Transportation, which has determined the intersection warrants a traffic light, according to Clark.

• The commission authorized the purchase of two pieces of equipment for Consolidated Fire District 1 — a mobile air trailer for structure fires and a rescue truck for St. George Fire District 10.

Cost estimates for both items are less than what was budgeted, according to Jared Barnes, fire supervisor.

• Clark introduced Dustin Newman as new assistant public works director, replacing Jim Jenkins, who resigned several months ago.

Newman was formerly a project specialist for Evergy, the company formed with the recent merger of Westar and Kansas City Power & Light.

• Tim Eisenbarth, noxious weed director, reviewed monthly chemical sales and recycling figures, as well as other projects completed recently by his department.

• Newly-elected Sheriff Shane Jager addressed commissioners briefly and introduced Doug Adams as new undersheriff.

“We look forward to working with you guys in the upcoming year,” Jager said. “If you have any questions just give me a call. That’s 24/7. That’s part of the job.”

County Republican precinct delegates elected Jager last week to fill the final year of the unexpired four-year term of Greg Riat. Jager was sworn in as sheriff Saturday.

Riat resigned as sheriff Saturday after being elected by precinct officials to fill the final year of the unexpired four-year term of Altenhofen, District 3 commissioner.

Altenhofen will step down as county commissioner Jan. 10. He resigned in October, citing added responsibilities at his job at Manko Window Systems, Inc. in Manhattan.