Chairman Ron Wells announced to the Riley County Commission on Monday that he is meeting with Gov. Laura Kelly on Wednesday.
Wells clarified to The Mercury on Tuesday that he must be screened by the governor’s staff before visiting with her. He expects to mostly meet with the governor’s staff, but also plans to speak with her as well.
“I just have a good feeling she will be very receptive,” Wells said during the county commission meeting Monday.
He said he’s been trying to set up a meeting with her for several weeks now, and he hopes to relay local information to the governor, particularly the property tax rate and how high rates affect local taxpayers.
Wells said he doesn’t think state legislators inform the governor well enough about issues facing counties and cities. He said he wants to give her some perspective from people who work “in the trenches” and what local officials do for the state.
“I feel our legislators have lost touch, for the most part, with counties,” he said on Tuesday.
Wells said he also plans to invite the governor and her staff to the Riley County Multi-County Summit, planned for Aug. 29.
“I realize she is very, very busy and has to plan things well ahead, but if the opportunity would present itself, I think it would be a great learning experience to actually see how counties operate, and what’s actually going on here down in the trenches, so to speak,” he said.
The commission on Monday also put radio towers and ambulances among the top items on its list of priorities for the Capital Improvement Program.
The commission decided to allot more money to its countywide radio system upgrade and to replace an EMS ambulance.
The radio project is an additional $286,198, which will go toward buying newer-model radios, and the ambulance replacement is $180,000. The commission also approved other projects on the CIP list, such as improving equipment for the Riley County Public Works.
Tami Robison, county budget and finance officer, said she will present final numbers to the commission about all the approved projects soon.
EMS/Ambulance Director David Adams said the county did not replace any ambulances between 2010 and 2016.
“We’re just trying to get caught up,” Adams said.
Adams also said the department received 363 calls in the month of July, which is down by about 25 compared to 2018 and 2017. The department had 14 calls from northern Riley County, which is average, he said.
The department also received the 2019 Career Services of the Year award by the Kansas EMS Association, Adams said.
Dennis Butler, director of the Riley County Police Department, asked the commission to approve a grant to pay for four radios, two for police cruisers and two portable ones. The commission approved the Edward Bryne Memorial Justice Assistance grant toward the initiative.
Also during the meeting, Lee Wolf, Konza Prairie Community Health Clinic CEO, informed the commission about the clinic’s services, adding that the health center established behavioral health services this year. The clinic is a not-for-profit, partially federally funded entity in Manhattan and Junction City.
Wells said he appreciated the work the clinic does, especially since his son, who is disabled, visits it for services.