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Commission OKs resolution on outside involvement
Compromise measure earns unanimous support
commission outside board involvement
Barton County Commissioner Kirby Krier, left, discusses a resolution regarding the sitting of commissioners on outside agencies and boards during the commission meeting Wednesday morning. At right is commissioner Jon Prescott. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Wednesday morning:

• Passed a resolution concerning the involvement of sitting Barton County Commissioners on area boards and committees.

Throughout September, this item was tabled. Commissioner Kirby Krier proposed guidelines for this sort of involvement, as well as other possible conflicts of interest. 

• Approved a proclamation in support of Manufacturing Day.

Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Megan Barfield asked the commission adopt the proclamation. This is held on the first Friday in October in order to provide students, parents and the public with information on modern manufacturing. 

Emphasis continues on engaging digital and virtual events throughout the country as a means to inspire the next generation to start careers in modern manufacturing. 

• Approved Facade Improvement Grant project deadline extensions for Andrew Mingenback’s The Landing at 2105 Forest and Chelsea Morris for the property at 1401 Main, both in Great Bend.

In September 2021, Mingenback was awarded a $20,000 allocation. Since its inception, there have been supply line issues and historical considerations affected the project, Andrew’s father Mark said.

The commission extended the deadline to June 30, 2023.

Also, in September 2021, Morris was awarded a $20,000 allocation. There have been vendor, supply line issues and historical considerations affecting the project, Operations Director Matt Patzner said.  

The commission extended the deadline to June 30, 2023.

Action was finally taken Wednesday morning on a resolution regarding sitting county commissioners and the outside boards with which they are involved. The matter, first raised by District 1 Commissioner Kirby Krier over a month ago, had been on the agenda weekly but tabled until the entire commission was present.

“I think we’ve come to a relatively decent compromise,” commission Chairman Shawn Hutchinson, District 3, said.

“We have,” Krier said. Originally brought up during an Aug. 31 study session, the first draft of the resolution read: “In an effort to ensure impartiality when making budgetary support decisions, effective Jan. 1, 2023, no sitting Commissioner shall sit on a board or committee of an agency, organization, nonprofit or any other entity funded or partially funded by Barton County other than the County itself.” 

His concern was the possibility of conflicts of interest, or perceived conflicts.

During that session District 2 Commissioner Barb Esfeld and District 5 Commissioner Jennifer Schartz bristled at the idea. Both sit on multiple boards that receive county money and see their involvement as a way to track how the funds are used.

In response, “we’ve put a couple of our options together,” Krier said Wednesday. “We waited until everyone was here because I think everyone wants to discuss it.”

The final compromise resolution reads: “The Barton County Commissioners shall act in a transparent and ethical manner, adhering to the principles espoused in the Board of County Commissioners of Barton County, Kansas, Policy of the Code of Ethical Conduct and Article 43 of the Kansas Statutes, Public Officers and Employees, as may be amended from time to time.”

However, it stops short of the original total ban on participation, Krier said. “They can discuss and do anything they want with these boards and discuss it with the commission. They just have to recuse themselves during the vote for that particular item when it comes to finances when that board requests money from the county.”

It goes on to say: “nothing herein shall prevent the commissioners from making a motion or voting on the annual budget wherein the financing levels of some agencies, organizations, non-profits and all other entities funded or partially funded by Barton County is expressed.” 

"So nothing has changed a lot,” he said. “It makes it look less like there’s a conflict.”

“I appreciate you waiting until I got back,” Schartz said. “Because when you first proposed this, I had a whole lot of things to say about it. And now that you’ve hammered it all out, I’m good with it.”

The measure earned unanimous support.