A program to filter $2.2 trillion in federal funding to millions of businesses, cities and schools through every county in every state in the nation can’t have any glitches ... can it?
Pottawatomie County commissioners posed that question Monday to the certified public accountant helping to administer the $4.9 million the county hopes to receive through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act — a stimulus bill passed in March by Congress.
“What’s the chances of this being a fiasco?” Commissioner Pat Weixelman asked Scott Lloyd, a partner in Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Lloyd, a McPherson-based accounting firm helping to guide Pottawatomie and 16 other Kansas counties through the intricacies of the act.
“We’re very familiar with the CARES Act,” Lloyd said via Zoom. “To the best of my ability, we’re going to do all we can for Pottawatomie County to make sure it’s not a fiasco.”
For the past few weeks, businesses, cities and school districts have been scrambling to gather COVID-related expenses to submit to the county which, in turn, will submit the direct-aid plans to the state by the Aug. 17 deadline.
“There’s a lot that’s going to happen before Aug. 17, at 5 p.m.,” Lloyd said. “It’s going to take a lot to pull it off, and we’re just going to have to be flexible and be able to do things on the fly.”
“Okay, I’m going to hold you to that and I appreciate your optimism,” Weixelman replied.
Lloyd said he has been working closely with the county’s administrative staff — Chad Kinsley, Heather Gladbach and Andrea Umscheid — to put the CARES package together.
“You have a great administration out there,” he said. “I’m very confident they’ll do their best to make sure this program benefits the citizens of Pottawatomie County.”
In items related to CARES, the commission:
- Received a request from Pawnee Mental Health Services for $3,126 as its share of the county’s CARES funds. The commission took no action on the request.
- Discussed using a portion of its CARES funds for a new tower to improve communications among county emergency agencies as well as city and state agencies.
- Umscheid, operations officer, said the communities of Belvue, Emmett and Olsburg have opted out of applying for CARES funds.
In other business Monday:
- Nancy McCarter, county clerk and elections officer, said there have been more than 312 new voter registrations in the past month and 500 since the first of the year, making a total of 15,992 registered voters in the county.
As of Friday, July 24, 2,774 primary ballots had been mailed to county voters, while more than 300,000 have been mailed statewide, McCarter said.
“Clerk’s offices everywhere have been swamped,” she said. “We’re keeping it professional in there. The ladies in my office are doing a great job.”
- Larson Construction, Manhattan, was the apparent low bidder for infrastructure improvements for Unit 6 of Nelson’s Ridge Subdivision in Blue Township.
Larson’s bid of $990,828 was below the engineer’s estimate of $1.03 million. Four other construction companies submitted bids for the project.
Public Works Director Peter Clark will review the bids and make a recommendation for the contract Aug. 3.
- The commission approved a QLess software system to manage appointments and eliminate lines at the county treasurer’s office.
The system, at a cost of $8,500, will allow customers to “get in line” electronically and be notified by phone when it’s their turn.
Commissioners, however, balked at spending an estimated $12,000 to $13,000 to renovate the old commissioners’ room, two-thirds of which is to be used as a waiting room for treasurer’s office customers.
“I kind of struggle with $12,000 for a remodel,” said Commissioner Greg Riat. “Put up a temporary divider ... for free.”
Commissioners deferred a decision until they had a chance to inspect the room Monday afternoon.
Treasurer Lisa Wright also said she would wait until this fall to request additional staffing for her office, even though she and Kinsley agreed her office has been understaffed for the past 18 months.
“We have worked our butts off in that office to get people in and out of there,” Wright told commissioners.
- The commission approved by a 2-1 vote a $49,000 contract with Bartlett & West to engineer a solution to a landslide on Booth Creek Road north of Tuttle Creek.
The hillside near the roadway collapsed several months ago due to an underground spring and a 200-foot section of the roadway has been one-way ever since.
“I move we sign the contract and get going,” Riat said. “We’ve waited long enough.” Commissioner Dee McKee agreed.
Weixelman opposed the move without a guarantee from the engineer that additional costs would not be forthcoming.
“I’m tired of throwing extra money into these things,” Weixelman said.
- The commission gave unanimous approval to reapplying for a KDOT grant to build a multi-use trail and pedestrian bridge along Green Valley Road in Blue Township.
The project had originally been part of the project to improve the intersection of Green Valley Road and U.S. Highway 24, but was removed when federal Davis-Bacon wage increases made the project too expensive.
- The commission approved a community service project of Broderick FCE to replace 12 roof tiles on the old jail at Westmoreland.
The project was approved following authorization by the state historic preservation officer, since the jail is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“We’re ready to go. All we need is your approval,” Dru Clarke, FCE representative told commissioners.