Legislation signed recently by Gov. Sam Brownback gives counties two options: allow anyone licensed to carry a concealed weapon to bring it into municipal buildings, including courtrooms, or secure building entrances so no one is permitted to carry a weapon inside. On Monday, Pratt County commissioners looked for a way to do neither.
According to Pratt County Commissioner Joe Reynolds, Brownback stated in an early speech that he was going to pass more costs on to local governments so the state would be able to avoid the budget expense.
Pratt County Sheriff Vernon Chinn said, "This is definitely an unfunded mandate. I just don't like someone telling me what I can do in my house."
Commissioners questioned Pratt County Counselor Robert Schmisseur if there was some way to avoid the unfunded mandate available to them.
Pratt County Commissioner Glenna Borho asked if the county could use "Home Rule" to opt out of the proposed state regulations relating to courthouse security.
Chinn said the county was going to have to start planning for the regulations and project a budget to cover the costs associated with them. It was noted that it would be easier to have security on the first floor, instead of having to provide security to multiple floors of the courthouse.
Commissioners asked Schmisseur to write a letter to the Kansas Attorney General's Office to question if "Home Rule" would provide a vehicle for the county to avoid the unfunded mandate.
In other matters, commissioners:
• approved a minimal rate increase for Blue Cross and Blue Shield coverage for county employees.
• approved paying the audit fee for the Sawyer Fire Station CDBG program grant, at a rate of $138 an hour.
• approved a contract with Charles Thimesch for $825 a month for lawn care for county property. Thimesch said he would not seed this year because there has been too much nitrogen on the lawn. Additionally, he said he would remove the ornamental pear tree from the south lawn down to where the roots can be ground up.
• were informed by Pratt County Zoning Administrator Robert Schmisseur, an RV Campground application would be brought to commissioners next week for a public hearing. The Pratt County Planning and Zoning Board has recommended approval of the zoning change.
• were informed by Mark McManaman, the county's offer of $250,000 for a 100-foot aerial fire truck was turned down. The sellers counter offered to sell at $350,000. Commissioners asked him to offer $275,000. The county has been putting $50,000 away annually to pay for equipment.
• Commissioners discussed a maintenance agreement with the county and Voice Products Services, LLC, in the amount of $3,396. McManaman is to get more information relating to other possible options.
• held a 20-minute executive session with Pratt County Attorney Ken Van Blaricum, to discuss salaries for personnel in his department.
• discussed rate raises at the Pratt County Health Department with Debbie McGraw. Oral contraceptives will go from $10 to $14 and Initial Family Planning will stay at $50. McGraw said Kim Stivers has accepted a position on the executive board of the South Central Kansas Coalition for Public Health.