For the second year in a row, Red Willow County commissioners voted to pay $5,000 instead of $10,000 for the county' membership contribution to the McCook Economic Development Corp.
During the commissioners' regular weekly meeting Monday morning, a motion by Commissioner Steve Downer to make a contribution of $10,000 died for lack of a second.
Rex Nelson, MEDC director, told commissioners, "The county needs to be a partner and a player" in the MEDC. He encouraged the county to stay involved. "It needs to be cooperative," Nelson said. "We're all in this together."
Downer requested the $10,000 contribution, he said, to allow the county to once again have the opportunity for its representative to be a member of the MEDC's executive committee and have an automatic board position.
Leigh Hoyt's motion to contribute $5,000 passed unanimously. Commission Chairman Earl McNutt told Nelson that "as much as I'd like to," he couldn't bring himself to double the county's contribution for 2010-11. "I appreciate the EDC's efforts," McNutt said, "but the county is struggling to find funds to keep things going. Every $5,000 is important."
Commissioners asked McCook Economic Development Corp. Director Rex Nelson to contact Ron Willocks about a time that county representatives can come to Longmont, Colo., to pick up files, computers and a helicopter that became the property of Red Willow County when Willocks' company, Pawnee Aviation, defaulted on a $300,000 county loan, and District Judge David Urbom issued a judgement by default on Nov. 30, 2009.
Nelson told commissioners that Willocks has given his consent for county representatives to pick up the "intellectual properties" of Pawnee Aviation, in addition to a helicopter and a titled trailer held in storage by a third party, who is asking the county to pay as-of-yet-undisclosed storage costs.
Commissioners asked County Attorney Paul Wood to put together an agreement for Willocks' signature clearly detailing intellectual properties -- those files, computers and passwords, designs, detailed parts lists, assembly instructions in Colorado and equipment in McCook.
Hoyt told Wood and Nelson to "get all the proper paperwork," before county representatives drive to Colorado to retrieve what is now Red Willow County property. "See how quickly we can get this put together," McNutt said.
The county will sell the intellectual property and the helicopter to recoup some of the $300,000 in principal and $45,179.19 in interest that Willocks has not paid since taking out revolving loan program loans in December 2004.
County Attorney Paul Wood told commissioners Monday morning that it is not the county's responsibility to build roads within rural subdivisions in the county.
The county shall maintain roads in unincorporated areas if they are first improved to minimum standards established by the county.
A memorandum accepted by commissioners Monday morning indicates, in part, that if the rural subdivision is within McCook's two-mile radius or Indianola's, Bartley's, Danbury's, Lebanon's or Marion's one-mile radius, the subdivision's developer/residents have to bring their roads up to the higher standard (either the city's or county's) before the road may be maintained by the county.
Gary Dicenta, the county's surveyor, said there remains some "gray areas" regarding road maintenance in rural subdivisions because the county needs to write subdivision standards into its zoning regulations.
Commissioners agreed to support LB 955, the "Correctional Facility Reimbursement Act," although they have serious reservations about how much money a county will have to spend to determine how much money a prisoner has available to reimburse the county for his/her incarceration, transportation, room, board, clothing, security, medical and other normal living expenses during incarceration.
County Attorney Paul Wood told commissioners that half to three-fourths of all prisoners have nothing, no assets or property, tangible or intangible, real or personal, with which to reimburse a county or correctional facility. Ten to 20 percent of all people go to jail, he said, for their inability to pay fines and court costs.
The bill authorizes a county judge to assess an amount from zero to $35 a day, the amount dependent on the ability of the prisoner to pay after he/she is released from jail. The goals of the bill are to recover the costs of operating correctional facilities and to assist in reducing property tax increases.
Wood said that if Red Willow County operated its own jail, the bill may make more sense, but it would only create more paperwork for the counties with which Red Willow County contracts to jail its prisoners.
Reimbursement of jail costs sounds great "in a perfect world," McNutt said, "but in reality ... "
McNutt said he can support the bill only because it has an amendment that allows a county to opt to participate or not.
Commissioners voted unanimously to support LB 955.
In other action:
* Wood told commissioners he and deputy county attorney Phil Lyons will make a bigger priority of tax foreclosures.
Wood said he plans to conduct sales of properties on which he has judgements from the last several years, and get new judgements by this summer.
He'll update commissions at their June 28 meeting.
* Commissioners disapproved the real and personal property tax exemption application from the Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptist Foundation, because its church building, on Q Street north of McCook Elementary, is for sale and no longer used for religious purposes.
* Commissioners appointed Dr. Jason Blomstedt to the Red Willow County Health Board to serve the remainder of Dr. John West's term that ends April 2012.