County commissioners approve KDHE aid

Judd Weil
Dodge City Daily Globe

Ford County commissioners voted 3-0 to approve an addendum to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Aid to Local Universal Contract at the Ford County Commission meeting Monday.

The first item within that proposal covered coronavirus relief funds that provide SPARK funding opportunities to local health departments, paying for some of the costs associated with the COVID-19 testing center, salary and overtime for KDHE staff, and other resources, such as computers and potentially vehicles.

The second item, the ELC COVID-19 Case Resource Coordination, will allow KDHE to continue paying salaries for hours worked that handle anything tied to COVID-19 response.

Additionally, within that process, KDHE must provide relief, such as financial assistance, for clients that must be off work because of COVID-19 complications, be it a temporary or permanent leave of absence.

Presented by director of finance Nicole May, commissioners approved 3-0 the annual budget for the Special Sales Tax Fund, which itself is made up of four smaller trusts, the operating fund, depreciation and replacement fund, organizational funding and debt service fund.

May also presented to commissioners, ideas for expansions and improvements to various venues and attractions in Dodge City, that could be discussed in more detail once the appropriate funds are met.

May said that while the budget for Dodge City Raceway Park will accommodate a new promoter and temporary maintenance positions during race season, there are items that need to be considered for replacement, such as caution lights, scoreboards and air conditioner units.

There are surveys, one for spectators and one for drivers, on the City of Dodge City’s Facebook page to gather feedback on the condition of the raceway and to help with searching for a new promoter.

May said the city of Dodge City is looking at the possibility of an LED jumbotron board for the raceway, designed to cutback on energy costs, and for a separate charge, indoor suites from which people can watch the races.

The city of Dodge City is also considering the idea of adding a swirl pool slide to the Long Branch Lagoon waterpark, as well as potentially a FlowRider wave generating machine. This machine ideally would come with a separate charge to limit the people who would be using it and the duration for which they can use it.

“With some of these projects, due to the market and such, the interest rates right now are pretty low,” May said. “We could possibly look at financing some of those with bonds and paying for them over 10 to 15 years, to be able to upgrade some of these facilities.”

If these new projects were to be paid for and put in motion now, it would deplete the depreciation and replacement fund and thus they are only ideas, May assured.

County Commissioner Christopher Boys said that whenever someone presents project ideas on behalf of the Community Facility Advisory Board, that typically it is attached to a joint meeting between the Ford County commissioners and Dodge City commissioners. Due to COVID-19, though, both entities received that information individually.

The commissioners took an overall more reserved stance toward the projects in favor of reviewing and taking care of items that need more immediate attention first.

The discussion for bids for the Paved Road Reclamation project for Jewell Road was tabled, 3-0, due to commissioners’ desires to see what they can accomplish with reserve funds to realize the project in full while accommodating the bid alternate without running overbid.

The original bid is for 4 miles of road out of 3 inches of asphalt, while the bid alternate is 5 miles at 3 inches of asphalt.

There is a sense of urgency regarding this project too, with Commissioner Shawn Tasset especially viewing its progress as slow.

“We’re playing catchup and we’re not going to get it done at 4 miles at a pop on something that’s going to last 20 or 30 years,” Tasset said. “That’s my point.”

An engineers’ report will follow at the next Ford County Commission meeting on Oct. 19.