Commissioners question need for water-quality monitoring

Commission questions the necessity of monitoring

Staff writer

The Marion Reservoir WRAPS project will receive a $417,214 reservoir improvement multi-year grant from Kansas State Workgroup, which will help to offset last year’s funding shortfall.

“We were just one of only a few who received the full amount that they asked for,” WRAPS coordinator Peggy Blackman, told Marion County Commissioners. “That’s because we go give them actual data, not just computer-generated data but actual data, and they could see what was going on.”

The first installment of $142,500 is expected to arrive in July, with the following installment of $144,738 to arrive in 2014 and $129,976 in 2015.

Blackman said the commission deserved a big pat on the back for allowing the water-quality monitoring research, since that is what convinced the Kansas State Workgroup to give the WRAPS program the funds.

The WRAPS project has been monitoring water-quality data since 2007, with the help of Dr. Barnes who has been working non-stop on keeping the data up to data – to the extent of working outside his contracted period. Commisioner Dan Holub questioned the Barnes’ credibility, and asked the commission to weigh their options before releasing this year’s budgetary funds.

Blackman reminded the commission that Barnes still would need to be compensated for work conducted in 2012.

“That’s just not right,” Holub said.

The commission members agreed that they didn’t see any official paperwork indicating that the man was getting paid for services rendered in the same budgetary year.

Blackman said she would email the commission members the invoices, proving that she was providing the correct information.

“I want to up front with you, gentlemen,” she said. “I don’t have a hidden agenda.”

Earlier this year, the commission put the $20,000 allocated for this year’s research on hold — not knowing that it was for work done in the previous year — while they tried to figure out if they wanted to have Barnes conduct the research again this year. Meanwhile, Blackman said she tried to explain budgetary restraints to the scientist, but he continued to gather data anyway.

Commissioners agreed to table the issue until they could decide if the monitoring was necessary — and requested that Barnes stop gathering reservoir data at this time.

Blackman plans to have a public meeting, detailing all of the changes that have been made in the Marion Reservoir.

Higher water rates ahead

Marion, Hillsboro and Peabody residents can expect to see higher water rates this year, said Blackman. Budget restrictions are causing taxes to rise.

Equal funds for school districts

Commissioners unanimously voted to provide area school districts with equal funding for after-prom parties.

Fishing contest on horizon

Officers from the Kansas Department of Wildlife will be coming to Marion in May to stun and ID the fish. One specimen will be selected and tagged. Steve Hudson, superintendent of Park and Lake, suggested a new year-long fishing contest where locals would pay to catch one of the identified fish. The commission liked the idea, but would like Hudson to think about the specific contest rules before making a decision.

New refuse trailer

Commissioners agreed to purchase a Steco steel walking floor refuse trailer for $55,527.54, which will be delivered to the county at no additional cost.

County to get new printer

Commissioners agreed to spend $1,697 for a Lexmark MS810 DN printer, with a $229 three-year warranty. This printer will be used to print county checks.

 

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