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County to again outsource valuation notices
Using outside firm saves time, money
new_deh_more commission  appraisers barb  esfeld mug.jpg
Barb Esfeld

The Barton County Commission Monday morning approved contracting with The Master’s Touch of Spokane, Wash., to create valuation notices, mailing labels and envelopes for mailing for the County Appraiser’s Office at a cost of $6.500.

After reviewing options, the Appraiser’s Office has determined that using The Master’s Touch to create valuation notices, mailing labels and envelopes is the most effective method for printing and mailing, said County Appraiser Barbara Esfeld. Her office had contacted firms from across the country that handle such services and received three bids with this being the lowest. 

This marks the second year of using this company, she said. It is also the second time it came in with the low price.

“I was hesitant at first,” Esfeld said, adding she was worried the service would be substandard. But, “we had no problems. We were very, very happy with them.”

Now, the timing is important.

“It’s hard to believe its that time of year,” she said. State statutes require the notices to be mailed by March 1.

As for doing the mailing in-house, Esfeld said contracting saves the county at least $10,000 in paper, envelops, printing and postage costs. That doesn’t include the labor involved for her staff. 

By outsourcing this, they can also go right into the next phase of their work, she said. Now, the office has to start on informal appeals, and personal property and oil/gas taxes.

“It just makes sense to have someone else do it,” she said. Besides, there is no one in Barton County that offers this service. 

“When you can save time and money, it is a win, win,” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. 

“We’re excited,” Esfeld said. 

In 2018, the county contracted with Mail Services LLC. of Urbandale, Iowa, for $7,352. 

But, while attending the International Assessing Officers conference, she learned of Masters Touch. In fact, its bid was $1,300 lower than that presented by Mail Services. 

Bourbon was the only other Kansas county using this company, and officials there gave it great reviews, the appraiser said. Now, there are several counties using the firm. 

In 2017, Marana, Ariz.-based software company Komtek was used at a cost of $8,761.50. For a few years prior to that, the county contracted with Postal Presort of Wichita for $9,157. 

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

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

• Approved contracting with The Master’s Touch of Spokane, Wash., to create valuation notices, mailing labels and envelopes for mailing for the County Appraiser’s Office at a cost of $6,500.

• Approved a matching fund request for the Southwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging, which provides various services for the elderly in the county.

SWKAAA is requesting matching funds from Barton County in the amount of $1,500. These funds, which would be used as seed dollars, are an equivalent match to the $429,382 in services received by older residents and low income families from Barton County, County Administrator Phil Hathcock said. 

The county has traditionally provided this match from the Finance General Account of the General Fund and it is an annual budgeted item.     

• Approved a renewing the three-year contract with Simplified Online Communication System to handle the county’s website. 

The annual cost for the services $5,225 per year.  

• Approved the county’s Kansas Association Of Counties membership for 2020. 

Based on a calculation that includes a base fee, population and valuation, the dues are $6,147.03.  

• Approved the county’s Kansas Legislative Policy Group membership for  2020. 

The KLPG is a bi-partisan coalition of western Kansas counties with the common interest in the preservation of the counties tax base and retention of local control. The cost of the renewal $4,993.56.