Purchase photos

County keeps ban on sale, use of fireworks





The Ellis County Commission will keep a ban on the sale and use of fireworks in place for rural areas of the county.

Last summer, commissioners passed a resolution permanently banning the sale and use of fireworks in rural areas of the county. Only another resolution could lift the ban. In Monday's meeting, the commissioners kept the ban in place.

"It puts people on notice that this is still standing rule," Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund said.

Chairwoman Barbara Wasinger said she has had residents ask her after recent rains if it was permissible to burn.

"It would be great if everyone was very mindful. ... It's just too dangerous," Wasinger said.

In other business:

* Commissioners were updated on sales tax revenue. Voters approved in May 2013 a 0.5-percent sales tax for the purpose of construction of an EMS/rural fire building, and renovations and construction for the county jail, courthouse and law enforcement center. The project's cost is $14.3 million, including interest.

Through December, the county had collected $291,000 since the tax went into effect Oct. 1. Since then, the county has collected $1.1 million and disbursed $128,000 for a cash balance at the end of April of approximately $1.3 million. Since there is no previous county sales tax to compare revenue with, Sund used the city of Hays' tax revenue as a guideline. The city's revenue is down 2 percent from the same time period last year. So far, 32.8 percent of the county sales tax has been collected for the project, 0.5 percent less than projected.

The county sales tax will sunset after five years, or when the project is paid off, whichever comes first.

* Public Works Director Mike Graf discussed the importance of federal funding for road projects. There is a concern more local dollars will be needed in the future to fund road and bridge projects.

The county has 38 bridges 75 years old or older, and 1,341 miles of roads maintained, of which 148 are paved.

Graf also gave an update on the road project on Old U.S. Highway 40 east of Hays to Victoria. Now open is 280th Avenue to Toulon Avenue.

Graf also gave an update on a planned project on Old U.S. Highway 40 from Yocemento to Ellis. The preliminary cost estimate is $2.4 million to $2.8 million.

* Commissioners were informed three terms were expiring on the Ellis County Joint Planning Commission. Marcy McClelland has expressed a desire to remain on the commission, while Brandon Pfeifer and Kirk Dickinson do not, Sund said in his memo to commissioners.

* Commissioners went into executive session for 15 minutes with Sund and county counselor Bill Jeter to discuss non-elected employee issues. No action was taken.