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Commissioners deny pay hike for themselves

The Iola Register

Allen County commissioners voted to deny themselves a raise at their meeting Tuesday. Commissioner Bruce Symes said that was the intention of commissioners when they set the budget last summer, but had yet to make the decision official.

At the beginning of the year county employees received a 2% cost of living raise and became eligible for up to 2% merit raises. Current pay for a commissioner is $22,000, with the ability to accrue COLA increases over their tenures.

Symes said he believed in “leading by example” in denying the body a raise. According to Kansas law, county commissioners must receive a salary of some sort. They can also take advantage of the county’s health insurance program and the state’s retirement program.

After over a year as chairman of the Allen County Commission, Jerry Daniels stepped down to allow Bill King the position and Bruce Symes to become vice-chairman.

A significant portion of the meeting focused on renewal of health insurance programs for county employees, with Phil Drescher from Bukaty Company of Kansas City stating that payouts over the past year were higher than usual, due to more than half a dozen employees facing serious health conditions.

Drescher suggested emphasizing the use of generic prescription drugs by employees in order to cut costs, but a discussion followed wherein he proposed the county might consider switching from its current health insurance carrier, Meritain. He and the Commission agreed, however, that action on this issue should not be taken prior to gathering more data.

 

MUCH OF THE meeting took the form of executive breakout sessions, in particular, so that commissioners could provide county employees with in-person evaluations. Those being evaluated included: Ron Holman, House and Grounds Director; Mitch Garner, Public Works Director; and Jami Clark, Appraiser.

Joyce Adair provided an update on the Iola Senior Center, focusing on their list of donors along with some of the renovation work currently being undertaken, while mentioning that although she was concerned about accessibility and space constraints, she did not want to see the center moved.

Jes Pfannelstiel of the Kansas Workers Risk Cooperative for Counties (KWORC) discussed forthcoming inspections of local infrastructure, as well as offering training programs for county employees, including those linked to safe driving. He also presented Allen County with the KWORC second-place award for “Exceptional Loss Rating,” based on projected money saved by meeting specific safety metrics.

Public Works Director Mitch Garner proposed some minor adjustments to the county’s waste management and recycling plans, which the Commission approved. He likewise mentioned a 10-wheeled vehicle in need of some repairs.

According to County Counselor Bob Johnson, there have been no new updates and no court dates set in the D&D Propane legal suit against Allen County.

After a vote, the Commission appointed Bill Shirley the county’s representative for the Area Agency on Aging.

The next Coffee with Commissioners will be at 8 a.m., Jan. 18 at Elsmore City Hall.

 

The Iola Register

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