Following the invocation by Commissioner Fred Brown, approval of the agenda with amendments and approval of the last meetings minutes, the Commission heard from Micah Boulanger, of Employee Benefit Management Services (EBMS), who gave commissioners an update on the county health care plan. More information will be in the Wednesday edition.

Commissioners then opened the public hearing for the 2020 Budget and were asked by John Schmid and Trisha Purdon, board president and executive director for Montgomery County Action Council, respectively, if they could say a few words about their allocated budget. Schmid began by introducing several member of the entity who were in attendance to support their cause. In question was the fact that in the 2020 budget, MCAC was allocated $125,000, which is a decrease from years past. Schmid and Purdon requested the Commission reinstate the $35,000 in which they decreased MCAC's budget, bringing their 2020 budget to $160,000.

"When the County's initial budget proposal was published in the [Montgomery County] Chronicle, we noticed the funding you had allocated for us [MCAC] had gone down significantly from the prior year and the prior year," Schmid said. "Thirty-some years ago when this foundation was founded, the County Commission adopted a resolution which allows for a funding level at a half a mill to promote commercial, industrial and agricultural growth in the County. It was deemed at that time as small, but very significant compared to what we had been getting for the work that is done by this hybrid, very unique at the time, public-private organization promoting economic development." 

Schmid said MCAC has a number of volunteer, private sector payers all across the county which make a "tremendous connection" and the ability to put out fires between communities, industries and local units of government which arise from time to time. MCAC works with the Department of Commerce, the Legislature and manages grant and initiative paperwork. Schmid said MCAC recently received a request for proposal on an industry that is anticipating 400 additional jobs. He said RFP's are like fishing, "Sometimes they bite and sometimes they don't." 

"We were very surprised to see this significant cut in funding, we had no heads up, no anticipation of this happening until we read the paper," Schmidt stated. "A few quick phone calls led us to believe that it was due to paperwork we had agreed to do on the county's behalf in 2012 and there was a question of the payor's who were local units of government that were signatories to the agreement, that the funds had not been collected."

Schmid said the explanation MCAC received was it was decided to take those monies from public entities that were either in arrears, had not paid or there was a question about them paying on the agreement, out of the economic development budget for Montgomery County. 

"Unfortunately, we had no contact on this, no questions about this, this issue came up … nothing until we read the newspaper," said Schmid. "I am here to ask you gentlemen to restore those funds in the current budget and to restore them at the level of a half a mill as has been the indication into what should be done to do that." He noted it would take more money to hire a company who would be half as successful as MCAC and it would be many years before there was staff "tenured enough to have the respect from the Department of Commerce that MCAC has been able to maintain for a number of years." Schmid told commissioners if there is a problem with the way MCAC does business, to please let them know, saying MCAC is very easy to get a hold of. 

Commissioner Larry McManus said he was not sure what all transpired but what the Commission learned was payments were not paid to agencies they should have been. "We were just trying to protect the County from having to resume all these payments in case they should default on them," McManus said. "It wasn't trying to penalize anybody. It was a glitch that something happened that the payment didn't get sent out." He said it was to be paid back to MCAC as soon as the issue had been cleared up.

Purdon said, "What I think John is saying is that if we had been given even a day or two notice that this is a concern you have … I think I had it taken care of in about three hours." Purdon spoke with KHRC, who agreed the payments could be extended. "The reason why the payments weren't coming in as expected and we were behind in the loan payment repayment is because the six homes in Independence are appraised about $15,000 less per year since the very beginning when the loan application was made to KHRC." 

Purdon was able to get the payment extension based on current appraisal value for the remainder of the loan until they are paid out accordingly. "All entities are paid and actually received checks today," Purdon noted. "They are all resolved now, we are caught up."

Schmid told McManus he understood wanting to protect the county taxpayers but "why didn't somebody let us know ahead of time?" McManus said he sees no problems if everything has been taken care of. 

Commissioner Fred Brown apologized for not doing a better job of communicating and would entertain the idea of returning the money to economic development. County Clerk Charlotte Scott-Schmidt added, "What we talked with Trisha about was amending the 2020 budget when we got all the paperwork done for extending it — amending it back to the $160,000. That money would come from the General offering which is where it was put."

Schmid asked it be restored back to the budget now so MCAC doesn't have to "go through this pond again because it's full of murky water." He understood it would require publishing the 2020 budget again in the newspaper and announce another public hearing. "I think we are all trying to accomplish the same thing here," Schmid said. 

The commissioners voted to republish the budget with the Economic Development amendment with a public hearing to be held Aug. 27 at 9 a.m.

Next up, Boulanger told commissioners the county health plan is "trending pretty well" and costs have been controlled. Boulanger gave commissioners a graph of medical claims for 2017 through June 2019. He told them EBMS has kept costs steady with the county spending around $3 to $3.5 million. "This year we are running about $250,000 less than we did last year at the same time period through June. The plan is running well. We switched dental plans this year, we are actually still self-funded but we are using a dental network (Ameritus Dental Plan Network)," he said. He reassured commissioners the benefits are the same. Boulanger said nothing is alarming through the plan, "nothing out of whack, so far."

Boulanger noted the plan incentivizes employees to use Coffeyville Regional Medical Center and Labette Health. "Labette's happy, Coffeyville's happy, they are getting more of our dollars and I think we are supporting them as well," Boulanger said. "Our employees have the best health plan around."

Boulanger did tell the Commission he thought future action should include diabetic medications. "We have a certain number of diabetics within the employees and their members and what I am seeing is some of them are purchasing their diabetic testing supplies and some are not," he explained. "I know it's because of cost." He is proposing implementing a program where EBMS can pay 100% of all diabetic testing supplies. He estimated it costs around $100 per month for the supplies, depending on brand, etc., but EBMS can get them for $25 a month through the program Boulanger is working with. 

"A compliant diabetic, one who is testing and is on top of their blood sugar level, costs about $6,000 a year," he said. "A non-complaint diabetic costs about $16,000." The employee would have no out-of-pocket costs through the plan. Boulanger also thinks the County should look into working with the County health center.

Department of Corrections Maintenance Supervisor Jeff Phelps told commissioners about one of the the compressors going out on a 10-ton air conditioning unit on the roof of the Coffeyville courthouse facility. The unit was put in place in 2007 and has R-22 refrigerant in it which will be outlawed early 2020. "We are running on one compressor right now," he noted, adding, "I'm not sure if it's going to be able to handle it or not." Phelps said he received some quotes and costs look to be somewhere around $12,000 to $14,000 to replace the unit. 

"If we do replace it, I'll add some figures for you but you might as well go with a heat pump and upgrade it," he said. "Spend the extra $1,400 or $1,500. The heat pump itself will pay for itself in three years." Although the unit is not that old, no one can seem to find a compressor for it. Commissioner Robert Bever suggested speaking with Judge Jeffrey Gettler to see if they have funds to contribute to the purchase of a new unit. Phelps will contact Gettler to see what kind of funds they could contribute and will get back to the Commission.

The Commission then went out of regular session and into the public hearing for a road viewing in regard to part of Hall St. and Bell St., Wayside. Public Works Coordinator Jim Wright provided a map of the area to commissioners. There were no protests to the road closure and Wright said the appraiser was in favor of it. Commissioners voted to approve the road closure.

Wright then asked the Commission to adjourn to executive session for 15 minutes in regard to acquisition of property. "We have two more properties to acquire at Tucker's Corner," Wright said. Commissioners voted to acquire said properties.

Wayne Gudmonson, Darren Petrowsky and Christy Kelly, with KDOT, updated the Commission on projects happening around Montgomery County. Commission Chairman Larry McManus told Gudmonson the County is still waiting on U.S. Highway 75 to become four-lane and Gudmonson said he had some news on that. "I thought you might want to know about the status out east of town," Gudmonson said. "Nineteen percent of the time has been charged on it and 18% of the work is done. It is slightly behind but it is really a big bridge job and most of the time on bridge jobs the time exceeds the money that has been paid out because until you start pouring the concrete and hanging beams, that is when the money really starts catching up. So it is still in really good shape."

The project on U.S. Highway 166 has 5% of the work completed and 9% of the time, he said. "But again, it's another bridge job," he noted, adding it should catch up quickly once the traffic direction has been changed. 

In regard to U.S. Highway 75, Gudmonson said he had good news. "The KDOT didn't have to lend the general treasury as much money this year and there was a $166 million that we didn't have to put over in the General budget," Gudmonson said. "With that, five T-Works projects that were delayed have now been reinstated. Caney was one of them." The project is scheduled to go to letting in the middle of November. "It is going to happen." 

Commissioners were updated on several other minor projects.

Lastly, the Commission heard from Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) representatives Donnie Collier and Doug Harlan, who requested $10,000 for a second Veterans Fair to be held Sept. 26 to 28. Commissioners asked for some numbers on paper and they will consider the request, stating they are not against it.

The next Commission meeting will be Aug. 19 at 9 a.m. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to attend.