Jul 21, 2020 11:20 PM

Commissioners hear of county road and bridge projects, budget info

Posted Jul 21, 2020 11:20 PM

Saline County Commissioners today heard an update of county road and bridge projects for 2020.

County Engineer Justin Mader told commissioners that multiple projects had been completed, including two bridge construction projects and the two-inch overlay on Old Highway 40 from North Niles Road to North Solomon Road. Additionally, he noted that the paving of West Water Well Road west of South Burma Road is almost complete.

Mader said projects that continue to be worked on but probably won’t see much movement until 2021 include road improvements to Simpson Road from Magnolia to Crawford utilizing high-risk rural route funds and FEMA mitigation projects for five locations that are notorious for flooding issues.

Additionally, several projects are planned for 2020 including a span bridge, five reinforced concrete box projects, installation of pipes on East Salemsborg Road west of South Holmes Road, pavement crack seal in several locations, bituminous patching and overlays, chip seal, aggregate shouldering, and completion of upgrades to the bulk fuel containment at the Road and Bridge Department yard, Mader noted.

Commissioners also approved a request from Emergency Management Director Michelle Barkley to extend the local disaster declaration regarding the public health emergency for another 60 days, according to information from the county. This declaration allowed for the county to continue to submit requests for protective gear and testing supplies to the state, the ability to apply for public assistance funds, and has tort claim liability protection, the information noted.

County Administrator Phillip Smith-Hanes provided commissioners with a review of the budget performance for the first half of 2020. Revenues and expenditures from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2020, were compared against the first half of 2019. Overall, revenues in the General Fund are up by about $750,000 from the same time last year and expenditures are down $206,000 compared to last year, according to information provided by the county. The Road and Bridge fund expenditures are significantly outpacing last year with their expenditures being up by $936,000 but that is related to the increased ability this year of getting projects out the door and completed.

Smith-Hanes told commissioners that after review, he sees no reason for concern with any of the 2020 budgeted funds for the first half of the year but does continue to advise departments to watch spending closely due to the uncertainty in the economy.

Smith-Hanes also provided an update to commissioners concerning the Coronavirus Funding Advisory Committee’s second meeting that was conducted Monday. The committee will meet again Wednesday to review the application that will be used as part of the direct aid plan for entities to use to apply for funds. The cities and school districts were given a deadline of Friday to submit all of their costs for which they are requesting reimbursement, he noted.

The county also reported that the treasurer's office confirmed that $11,026,434 in Coronavirus Relief Funds was deposited into the county account on Monday.

The county website has a dedicated page regarding these funds where citizens can see all of the information, submit ideas, and find a direct link to the county’s YouTube channel to see past meetings.

Smith-Hanes also told commissioners that after the commission approved having staff continue with the publishing of the 2021 budget, some adjustments were made after receiving the necessary information on Rural Fire District No. 4 and suggestions from the auditor that brings the budget down about $20,000 from what the commissioners saw last week.

Publication of the budget will occur and commissioners will take public comment and consider adoption of the budget on Aug. 11. Information on the 2021 budget can be found on the website https://www.saline.org/Departments/CountyAdministrator#53239-budget-documents.

Commissioners also approved that Chairman Robert Vidricksen sign the certification of local government approval for Central Kansas Mental Health to apply for and accept an Emergency Solutions Grant. This grant opportunity was made possible for community mental health centers to apply for under the CARES Act to be used for homeless assistance. Central Kansas Mental Health is applying for $53,000 in hopes to provide rapid housing for homeless as well as the ability to purchase some personal protective equipment for its employees who do homeless outreach.

There is no financial impact on the county as this grant will be managed by Central Kansas Mental Health Center. The grant required that they obtain local government approval before submission, according to information from the county.