Money matters; Commissioners discuss keeping expenses in check as year draws to a close

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bourbon County Commissioners are emphasizing due diligence in spending matters for county departments as they near the end of the year, including a change in the approval process for such expenses -- specifically in the Public Works Department -- the biggest budget in the county.

Commissioner Allen Warren said the county is "in pretty good shape," but everyone should be watching their costs as the year draws to a close.

"We're all in this together," Warren said. "Somehow we need to put together a better approval process for all of us."

He said Public Works Director Marty Pearson, whose budget is larger than other county departments, also has higher expenditures.

"I'm not picking on you by any means," Warren told Pearson. "But you do have more tickets to look at."

Commissioner Jingles Endicott suggested that expenditures of more than $1,000 by Public Works should be approved only by Pearson. Currently, secretary Doylene Chapman also approves expenditures in the department.

"I feel like we are putting an unfair responsibility on Doylene to approve some of these expenses," Warren said.

Warren suggested the chairman of the board should approve expenditures when Pearson is on vacation.

Pearson also told commissioners he would be checking to see if Phoenix Coal Co. has resumed operations on Deer Road. Pearson said about eight to 10 years ago the company made an agreement with the county to maintain a four-mile stretch, from U.S. Highway 69 to 267th Street on Deer Road. Pearson told commissioners that roadway could use some attention.

Pearson added he still has received no response from Heartland Electric regarding a $16,500 bill to replace gravel commissioners contend the company's subcontractors took from windrows on 155th Street while replacing utility poles after a large storm in September.

Chain Electric was the subcontractor for Heartland Electric on that project.

Commission Chairman Harold Coleman also signed papers notifying commissioners that the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad will be installing crossbars near Fulton on Yellowstone east of 215th Street. The county has already installed the advance warning signs and federal funds will pay for the project.

Pearson also said delivery of a 2009 Hyundai Crawler, Model R210 track hoe from Victor L. Phillips would occur Tuesday between 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Blake Quarry. The equipment was purchased by the county for $122,675.

County Appraiser Judy Wallis told commissioners that she received an email from Joe Bisogno, a representative of Timber Hills Lake Hunting & Fishing Adventures Lodge, regarding the taxing of property there. The email, which was also copied to Fort Scott City Manager Dave Martin and Fort Scott Community College President Clayton Tatro, but not a Bourbon County Commissioner, included a request to change the county's taxation status of the property.

"What dog do they have in this fight?" Coleman asked.

Wallis said the land was taxed at the agricultural rate, but the buildings were deemed to be commercial. Wallis also presented photographs of the facility to commissioners.

In other business:

*Commissioners said they will be putting out bids for 85 culverts for Public Works.

*Larry Quirin, 1163 Locust Rd., visited with commissioners about putting more gravel on Locust Road.

*Warren suggested a "clean as we go policy" as they prepare to move rock crushing operations to Blake Quarry.

*Pearson informed commissioners he would be submitting the cost of new road sign replacement to T-Works, the state's comprehensive road program.

*Pearson also told commissioners that new seatbelts had been installed in all equipment at the quarries that needed them to comply with the Mining Safety Health Act.