Pratt Energy, the organization operating the ethanol plant, has applied for a property tax exemption in consideration for the amount of work they had to do to get the plant up and running after it sat vacant for five years. It has about 35 employees.
The Pratt County Commissioners will consider the application that could last a maximum of 10 years. The plant has had about $18 million in start up improvements.
The property value of a facility like the ethanol plant drops dramatically for every year it sits empty so the county would benefit from having the plant operating with the exemption as opposed to it sitting vacant.
The commissioners are also considering a rebuild for a packer at the Pratt County Landfill following the breakdown of the vehicle that will require at least extensive work on the front axel assembly, said Jason Winkel, landfill and recycling supervisor at the Monday Pratt County Commissioners meeting.
The rebuild for the 15-year-old packer is $160,000 and would take about six weeks to complete but it would be much less expensive than a new packer listed at $398,000, Winkel said.
"It would be like having a new machine but at half the cost," Winkel said.
During the rebuild, the landfill would have to rent another machine at almost $13,000.
Currently, the special equipment fund has $202,000 and the commissioners were reluctant dedicate the bulk of the fund to this one project incase another breakdown should happen.
County Counselor Bob Schmisseur suggested they sell the packer back to Foley, let them refurbish it then buy it back with an understanding that the buy back would happen. Then work with a local bank for a lease purchase agreement.
It would allow the landfill to get an operational packer and still maintain the special equipment fund.
Commissioners were informed two previous purchases and a sale have been complete. The County Road Department has purchased two road graders at $231,000 each. A used county grader was sold to the City of Pratt.
The new graders are expected to arrive Nov. 26 and 27 and will be used in the Iuka and Sawyer areas, said Road Supervisor Randy Phillippi.
Sheriff Vernon Chinn said overcrowding remains a problem. He currently has to leave from five to six beds empty so he can accommodate the people who fill up the jail as they work on their sentences on the weekend.
Four Pratt County prisoners are still held at Dodge City and that is costing the county money every day.
Schmisseur suggested that different sentencing might be necessary to relive the problem. The court might have to sentence with the understanding that sentences would have to be served during the week because the jail can't hold beds for the weekend.
Rochelle Westerhaus, library director at the Pratt Library, told the commissioners that the library Board of Directors and staff decided to start a capital improvement fund. The library building is 47 years old and has a number of problems that need to be addressed so a capital improvement fund would be a good solution.