The Butler County Board of Commissioners selected The Austin Peters Group, Inc. as the firm to complete a classification and compensation analysis for the county.
Austin Peters was the top pick for classification and compensation analysis services according to factors laid out by the Butler County Classification Committee. AGH Employer Solutions came in second.
Austin Peters will cost $49,000. AGH would have cost about $37,000, but they don't have as much experience with the requested services compared to Austin Peters.
The county should have results from the analysis by Austin Peters in late May.
The board of commissioners also discussed the Rural Water District No. 5 annexation.
"So, what we have before us is a petition from rural water district number five. This was received two weeks ago – the petition in the clerk's office. This is for area north of 254 Highway and west of the Whitewater River. This was petitioned in by a majority of the landowners, but not by all the landowners. Thus, it required notification to all the landowners for that .... What this is, is simply a petition to serve. These individuals would be provided water service from the rural water district, and I believe they'd have to participate in any extensions or projects that would occur," County Administrator Will Johnson said.
The board of commissioners held a public hearing at the request of the Rural Water District. James Sawyer from Towanda, one of the landowners who would be affected by the annexation, was present to give his thoughts.
Sawyer doesn't want rural water service because he has his own well. Although he wouldn't be required to hook up to rural water, he was concerned that he may still have to pay for the service in district number five if it is implemented in the area.
Local attorney Ray Connell, general counsel for Rural Water District No. 5, explained the only people who will pay or be taxed for the service are those who will hook up to that water – and everyone in the area will have a choice whether to use the service or not.
After the public hearing closed, the commissioners approved the annexation of Rural Water District No. 5. Then Keith Lawing, senior administrator for Regional Economic Area Partnership (REAP) of South Central Kansas, addressed the board in support of Butler County rejoining REAP. In a general sense, REAP exists to positively influence economic growth through focused collaboration among its members. Lawing said he recalled that Butler County was a member of REAP from about 2001 to 2014. It would cost the county $7,338 to rejoin. This item was tabled so the commissioners could become more familiar with the option of rejoining REAP and be able to make an informed decision later on.
Afterward, the commissioners discussed the purchase of a message switch for computer-aided dispatch (CAD) interface to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). This would affect law enforcement agencies in Butler County. Chris Davis, 911 director for Butler County, addressed the board on this item.
"The message switch is what's used to interface CAD ... to many other software services. The packet talks primarily about NCIC interface, but I want you to be aware that this message switch would improve our interfaces to all of the other software that we interface to – such as our paging interface. CAD will automatically send a notification to first responders [and] deputies – that kind of thing. As soon as a dispatcher assigns them in a call in CAD, they receive, essentially, a text message. Now, they can download an app like Active 911 – those kinds of things. But, it gives them the location, the nature and whatever details are in CAD at that time. Those interfaces, from time to time, become latent. And we have to go back and reset them and that kind of thing. In the case of the paging interface, we have no idea that it's down until somebody on the other side says: 'Hey, I didn't get a CAD page on that.' So, then we have to go through a process to reset those things. This message switch would improve those interfaces a great deal. The reason that your packet talks about the NCIC interface is: it is latent enough that we can't keep it up for more than a couple of hours, and it's just become very, very problematic. So we would like to purchase this message switch to improve those things," Davis said.
The message switch is a $11,350 purchase, and it wasn't a budgeted item. It will be paid for with 911 fees. The current balance for those collected fees right now is over half a million dollars. The purchase was approved.
Then the board of commissioners opened bids for noxious weed department herbicides. They moved to take the bid tally and assess recommendations at a later date.
Later in the meeting, the commissioners heard from Chief Information Officer Scott Stoskopf in a workshop for the IT strategic plan. There will be some edits made to the plan followed by a formal adoption in the future.
Before the meeting adjourned, Johnson updated the county commissioners on Butler County's listing as a sanctuary county. Butler is currently described as a sanctuary county according to an immigration studies website. Johnson said that Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet is reaching out to other counties affected by the website's list. Then, Herzet plans to approach administrators of the website along with representatives from the other counties that are incorrectly listed, requesting to be removed from the list.
"We got a lot of ICE inmates. It's ludicrous we're on that sanctuary county list. So, that is occurring. You may see some stuff on that. We're working to get our name removed from the sanctuary county list," Johnson said.
Regulations on what constitutes a sanctuary county can be somewhat indistinct. Basically, if a county doesn't detain an illegal immigrant, it is deemed a sanctuary county. However, it is illegal to detain a person without charges. There is no federal law that defines a sanctuary city or county.