County Presidents Day closings announced
Barton County office buildings will be closed Monday, Feb. 15, in observance of Presidents Day. The Records Division of the Sheriff’s Office and the Health Department will also be closed.
The Landfill will close at 11 a.m. that day. Emergency services will be in normal operation.
In addition, the County Commission meeting, which would have been held Monday morning, will also be moved. It will place at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, at the courthouse, 1400 Main in Great Bend.
Noting it was bad for Barton County and for all rural Kansas counties, the County Commission Monday morning signed off on a letter by Chairman Jim Daily opposing a state Senate bill which would change county appraiser qualifications.
The Kansas Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation is considering Senate Bill 72, which makes changes to the qualifications and appraisal courses for appraisers, County Counselor Patrick Hoffman said. “Barton County opposes this.”
What does this mean?
“It would limit education and continuing education for appraisers,” said District 2 Commissioner Barb Esfeld, who recently retired as county appraiser. “Why would take away the best form of education you have?”
According to Esfeld, SB 72 would remove two designations awarded by the International Association of Assessing Officers as qualifying credentials for county appraisers. The bill would require appraisal courses necessary to qualify for the registered mass appraiser designation and all continuing education courses to be approved by the Real Estate Appraisal Board beginning on July 1, 2022.
She said the bill has the potential to increase costs for counties by removing two designations awarded by the International Association of Assessing Officers as qualifying credentials for county appraisers. “There’s nowhere to replace that.”
And, the Real Estate Appraisal Board has indicated it could increase administrative costs and staff time to review and approve all courses for the registered mass appraiser designation. However, it is estimated these would be negligible and would likely be recouped from course approval fees that are currently set at $100 each.
The Department of Revenue Property Valuation Division would be responsible for developing courses or contracting with vendors that would need to be approved by the Real Estate Appraisal Board. Additionally, adapting the current registered mass appraiser designation without the use of IAAO courses could increase staff time and resources,
If this limits the number of qualified appraisers in the state, county governments may be required to pay higher wages or pay other higher costs (mileage and other benefits) to attract qualified individuals, Esfeld said. This is of particular concern in rural areas where there are fewer qualified candidates.
As it is, there are currently only 78 appraisers serving 105 counties, Esfeld said. That number of appraisers could quickly drop with this legislation.
However, the bill “seems pretty popular,” she said, referring to a report she got last week. She has a couple theories for this popularity.
First, the state Senate may be retaliating against the IAAO letter critical of any changes. Second, there may be pressure form big box store retailers to change how vacant stores (known as dark stores) are assessed.
‘I just don’t see that as a positive,” District 1 Commissioner Kirby Krier said of the proposed bill.
Barton County Commission meeting at a glance
Here’s a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:
• Approved a resolution supporting Barton County Health Department, Administration and Sheriff’s Office’s current first-come-first-serve COVID-19 vaccination campaign until a different system is developed and feasible.
• Approved the vacating a portion of Barton Avenue in the Lyndhurst Place Subdivision in South Homestead Township, an area also known as South Hoisington.
• Approved the 2021 biennial bridge inspection agreement. The contract goes to Kirhham-Michael Engineering of Ellsworth for $33,890, up $1 per bridge since the last inspection done by the firm in 2019.
County Engineer Barry McManaman requested proposals from engineering firms to perform the 2021 biennial bridge inspections. Work includes routine bridge inspections following the requirements of the Kansas Department of Transportation “Local Routine Bridge and Element Level Inspection Scope of Services and Forms,” he said.
Barton County is required to have all 372 bridge-length structures inspected every two years.
The only other bidder came in at over $100,000.
• Approved the inventory of county property.
Per state law, each county officer and head of a department shall make an inventory of the personal property owned by the county and located in their offices. The inventory, which shall be taken during December and must be filed with the County Clerk by Dec. 31. The inventory shall not include books, records, files, stationery, writing materials and blank legal papers.
The information will be presented to the cmmission during February. The mandated duties have been assigned to the Information Technology Department.
Donna Zimmerman, County Clerk; Chris Saenz, Equipment Technician and Dereck Hollingshead, Director, will provide details.
• Signed off on a letter by Chairman Jim Daily opposing Senate Bill 72, which would change county appraiser qualifications.
The Kansas Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation is considering Senate Bill 72, which makes changes to the qualifications and appraisal courses for appraisers in Kansas.