OSWEGO — Transferring sheriff patrol trucks to the Labette County Public Works Department may have to wait a while for financial considerations.
Former Labette County Sheriff Robert Sims agreed about four years ago to purchase new patrol vehicles, Dodge Ram pickups, with financial help from Public Works. The sheriff budget paid for half of the purchase and Public Works the other half. The agreement transfers the patrol trucks to Public Works after a certain period of time and after new trucks are ordered and delivered to replace the ones handed to Public Works. Some pickups have been transferred to Public Works and more should be transferred this year.
Sheriff Darren Eichinger, who took office Jan. 9, and Undersheriff Clifford Davis met with Labette County commissioners Tuesday to discuss vehicle needs for the department. Eichinger said he doesn’t want to continue the purchase arrangement with Public Works in the future and said it would take several years to transfer the patrol trucks in the sheriff’s fleet to Public Works. As it turns out, the county’s auditor said transferring special equipment money from Public Works to the county general fund is a budget infraction and he said the purchase arrangement should end because of it.
Public Works Director Sandy Krider provided commissioners a list of five vehicles she wants replaced because of high miles and condition. She didn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting.
Eichinger said he cannot spare that many vehicles now in his fleet. He has four vehicles that could be transferred, but one of these could remain in the sheriff’s fleet for another year because it has only 72,000 miles on it. The other three have from 102,000 to 106,000 miles on the Hemi V-8 engines.
Eichinger said Public Works is due for seven vehicles as part of the trade agreement.
“I just can’t do it,” he said.
If he did, he would need to come up with $200,000 from his budget to buy new vehicles, “and it’s just not there.”
Money from jail contracts is used to pay for patrol vehicles, but there is nothing in the budget now since the budget starts at zero on Jan. 1. Commissioner Lonie Addis later determined the jail contract fund had about $100,000 left at the end of 2016, but that was transferred to another line item in the general fund as all leftover funds are at the end of the year. The jail houses inmates from Sedgwick County and Eichinger said he’s exploring additional options for jail housing contracts for additional income, though he wants to keep beds open for local inmates, too. The jail’s capacity is 83 and it held 56 inmates on Tuesday.
Eichinger said trucks are the cheaper option for patrol vehicles now, but he would like to return to a Ford Explorer if possible. Explorers cost more than $36,000 to purchase and outfit while the trucks cost less.
If he gave up the three patrol vehicles to Public Works, he wouldn’t have enough budget to replace them.
Davis told commissioners he signed the county up for the waiting list for used Kansas Highway Patrol vehicles, but the waiting period is about 19 months.
After discussion, commissioners and Eichinger agreed to hold off on purchases until the spring or summer and make sure the money is there from jail housing so Eichinger will know how much money he has to work with.
In the meantime, he could put off the vehicle transfer to Public Works.
Hospital bond issue
Commissioners approved paperwork related to the issuance of $15 million in hospital revenue bonds for Labette Health to refinance the remaining amount of a 2007 bond issue that was used to improve the hospital campus.
The new bonds will save the hospital $10.2 million over the course of repaying the bond debt, which will be paid off by 2036.
The hospital used more than $30 million in bonds in 2007 to finance campus improvements, including The CORE and a medical office building. The hospital paid down that debt, but the interest rate was pretty high compared to interest rates now and the bonds were callable so they could be refinanced using lower interest rates. The new interest rate is 3.8 percent on the $15 million issue.
In December, the commission signed paperwork to issue $9.021 million in bonds to refinance a portion of the debt and Tuesday’s action took care of refinancing the remaining $15 million in bond debt.
The hospital’s monthly payments on the bond debt will drop considerably, Tom Macaronas, chief financial officer for the hospital, told commissioners.
Garth Herrmann of Gilmore and Bell presented the paperwork to the commission with Macaronas and brought along a number of documents for Commission Chairman Fred Vail to sign.
Commissioners approved a resolution to redraw commission districts.
The resolution moves Liberty Township to the 1st Commission District from the 2nd District, where it was before 1972, the last time of redistricting in the county for the commission. The changes are effective after publication of the resolution in the Labette Avenue.
Based on the 2010 Census, the 1st District will have 7,319 people; the 2nd District 7,415; and the 3rd District 6,873. Before redistricting, the 2nd District had about 1,000 more people in it than the other two districts.
The district boundaries are to be reviewed every three years based on the population. Commissioner Vail thought that was silly because the Census occurs every 10 years.
The county clerk’s office will send out new cards to voters in Liberty Township so they know about change.
In other matters, commissioners:
— Met in closed session for a personnel matter with the sheriff and undersheriff. No action followed.
— Met in closed session for 30 minutes for attorney-client privileged information with the county treasurer and county appraiser. No action followed.
— Heard an update on the rock quarry from Vail and briefly discussed the equipment needs at the operation. No action was taken.
— Heard from Eichinger that he wants to declare as surplus property an air boat. It hasn’t been used for years. Last summer, it apparently fell off a trailer while being towed down a highway and he hasn’t looked at the bottom to determine damage.
— Agreed to withhold payment of $122.70 to Lewis McConnell for work done on sheriff vehicles and apply that toward what McConnell owes on property taxes.