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Property valuations statements to be on time
County approves having company mail valuation notices

 In other business Monday, the Barton County Commission:

• Heard a report on the new Oxford House coming to Great Bend. Oxford House is a concept in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. In its simplest form, an Oxford House describes a democratically run, self-supporting and drug free home, said organizer Jason Cavender. He has established a home at 1614 Morton in Great Bend that will open Feb. 1. 

The are seeking donations of household items to get the house up and running.

• Named Scott Fleming, Dr. William T. King, Dr. Mike Malone and Krista Smith to the Health Advisory Board. The board reviews and makes recommendations on policies related to public health services in Barton County. It also helps meet requirements for grants for which the Barton County Health Department applies. Four positions are to be filled by allied health personnel (taken care of by the commission’s action Monday) and one by a lay person (this remains unfilled). The uncompensated positions term Dec. 31, 2017, said Health Director Shelly Schneider. 

• Discussed the Kansas Department of Transportation Local Road Safety Plan. Under a proposed agreement, KDOT will analyze county roads for the identification of potential safety improvements, County Administrator Richard Boeckman said. KDOT will eventually hire a consulting engineering firm to look at similar roadways and crash statistics statewide and apply them to Barton County roads. 

The goal is to identify potential problem spots and develop a list of safety improvements. Although a project cost has not been identified, but it is estimated to be between $40-50,000. The county would be responsible for 10 percent of the total. 

County Administrator Richard Boeckman said having the plan would make the county eligible for more grant funds, including funds for the High-risk Rural Roads project.

• Approved a $7,461.61 bid from Silverado Electric to replace 115 outlets at the Road and Bridge and Noxious Weeds offices. In September, 2015, the Kansas Department of Labor performed an on-site Safety Inspection of Barton County facilities. While most corrective actions have been completed, a remaining one relates to the replacement of the outlets. The work must be completed by an electrician, said Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillips.

The inspection also spotted problems in the courthouse, Sheriff’s Office and other buildings. These and minor changes at the Road and Bridge facility have already been fixed.

The new outlets, which meet new safety codes, were the most costly of the improvements that had to be made.

 In seeking approval to outsource the mailing of property tax valuation statements, Barton Count Appraiser Barb Esfeld offered some good news to the County Commission Monday morning.

“We are on track to mail March 1,” she said. This meets the state mandated deadline.

“I’m glad we are on time,” she said. This is good for her office and the county’s tax payers.

In the past, due to software changes and other issues, the county has had to ask for extensions. That wont be the case in 2016.

As for the mailing, the commission approved using Postal Presort of Wichita to generate and mail county’s 18,000-some valuation notices, labels and envelopes at an estimated cost of $9,157.81. An exact cost won’t be known until the exact number of statements is determined.

After reviewing options, the Esfeld said her office determined this is the most cost effective method. Not factoring in the labor involved, just to prepare the items for mailing would cost about $10,000.

The time saved will allow the Appraiser’s Office staff the opportunity to focus on getting ready for hearings and helping customers.

The county has used Postal Presort for a couple years now and it has worked well. “If it’s working, don’t change it,” Commissioner Kenny Schremmer said.

The company now works with most counties in Kansas to provide this service. Esfeld said they tried to find a local vendor to handle the job, but one was not available.