The regular monthly meeting of the Soldier Township Board was called to order July 6, 2021, at 12:15 p.m. Board members present were Jerry Glasgow, Karl McNorton, and Mike Mathes. Chief Doug Schmitt represented the Fire Department and Bob Oliva represented the Road Department.
Guests in attendance:
Laurie Moody (Bookkeeper) and Lee Hendricks (Attorney)
Member McNorton made a motion to approve the check register, the minutes, and the agenda as presented. Member Mathes seconded the motion. Motion was approved 3-0.
Pubic Comment and Communication:
There were no public comments or communication to be addressed.
Mr. Oliva opened the discussion on the 2022 Budget. The revised valuations have been received from the County which resulted in $264,000 less than anticipated. Mr. Oliva has notified the County Clerk’s office via email that the Township intends to exceed the Revenue Neutral Rate. It was suggested that the RNR Hearing be held at the September 7, 2021 board meeting and that the legal notice of the hearing is properly announced on the Soldier Township website and in the Topeka Metro News newspaper, as required. The Budget Hearing could be held immediately following the RNR Hearing. As required, the Budget will be certified to the Shawnee County Clerk no later than October l, 2021. Member Mathes made a motion to give notice to exceed the revenue-neutral rate and a motion to hold the RNR and budget hearing at the September 7, 2021 board meeting. Motions were seconded by Member McNorton. After further discussion, motions were approved 3-0.
Chief Schmitt presented information concerning the funding of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), explaining that townships have been specifically excluded from eligibility for these funds. Conversation ensued about the distributions being made at the City and County levels. Soldier Township is, by far, the largest township in the State of Kansas and is the 25th largest municipality in the State, with a population of 15,117 as of 2019. Soldier Township provides residents with both Road and Fire services which makes it unique and different from other townships in the state. Based on these facts, it was decided that a letter will be drafted to Federal, State, and County governmental agencies and representatives concerning the distribution of the funding and to malice exception for Soldier Township. Chief Schmitt proposed that the funds could then be used to equip the Fire Department with additional equipment that is needed to ensure the safety and health of the firefighters.
Mr. Oliva announced that the bookkeeping has been converted to Quickbooks Online which enables numerous people to always have direct access to the financial reports. It is the intention to include the budget directly into Quickbooks for cleaner budgeting processes.
Proceeds in the amount of $199,255.00 were received from the sale of the Button Road property. Mr. Oliva and Chief Schmitt suggested that those funds be distributed equally between the Special Fire Protection Fund and the Special Road Equipment Fund, or $99,627.50 each. Member
McNorton made a motion and Member Glasgow seconded the motion to split the allocation of funds from the sale of the property on Button Road 50/50 between the Road and Fire Special Equipment Funds. After further discussion, motion was approved 3-0.
The Township received and accepted a bid for the demolition of the milk barn. The demolition process began today.
Chief Schmitt presented the Board with proposed pay rate increases for Chad Lady based merit and for Rachel Frehe based on merit and her completion of paramedic training and certification. He also proposed future standardized beginning pay rates and increases based on level of training completed and the value the training brings to the Department. This will encourage continued education and training and move the Department in the direction of being able to provide more advanced medical treatments. Member Mathis motioned to advance the pay for AMETs and EMTs. The motion was seconded by Member McNorton. After further discussion, the motion was approved 3-0.
Chief Schmitt moved on to the Fire Report. This month, the Fire Department has added two (2) more paramedics to the Department (Rachel Frehe and Jordan Sharpe), and the Department is now fully staffed with the additional six (6) new members who were hired last month all making it through basic academy.
The new brush truck has been completed, picked up, 1s now m service and 1s exceeding performance expectations.
The Department was awarded a 50/50 grant from Kansas Forest Service which will match up to 50% of the requested amount of $6,500. The intention is to use the funds towards purchase of necessary protective apparel and the remaining 50% to be funded by the Fire Reserve Funds.
An additional First Responder grant request has been submitted to the County for two (2) new AEDs to replace existing units.
Mr. Oliva presented the Board with proposed pay rate increases due to merit and increased skill levels for Skyler Fitzgerald and Louis Smith. He also announced the rehiring of Carl Harvey into the position of Operator I. All future pay increases for all Township personnel will be documented and presented to the Board for approval. Member Mathes motioned to approve the pay increases for Skyler Fitzgerald and Louis Smith and the rehiring of Carl Harvey. Motion was seconded by Member McNorton. After further discussion, motion was approved 3-0.
Central Salt provided the Township with a bid for salt for the 2021-2022 season for 800 tons of SnowSlicer Enhanced Salt at $79.25 per ton, a total of $63,400.00. This is the exact same rate as this past season. No further quotes were requested. Member McNorton motioned to accept the Central Salt bid on salt for this coming year. Motion was seconded by Member Glasgow. After further discussion, the motion was approved 3-0.
Mr. Oliva summarized the road department activity for the past month, which included finishing active work orders from 2020, paving overlays in the areas of NW Indianola and NW Button Roads, and replacing a cross-road culvert between NW Topeka Avenue and NW Rochester Road on 39th Street. This area is being prepared for chip seal later in July.
The job posting on Facebook resulted in over thirty (30) applicants for the position of Operator 1. Most of those applicants were actively employed with other agencies and most had experience with equipment operation. The interviewing process now includes an equipment operation skill assessment exercise which proved to be valuable. Mr. Oliva has hired Steve Wagner into the position of Operator 1 with his first day of work being July 6, 2021. The department is now fully staffed. Mr. Oliva also presented the idea of creating an apprenticeship position to use as a training position to fill positional voids in the future. Due to multiple resignations of personnel this year, the funds are available within the budget for this type of position which would start out at $18.00 per hour. It will then be included in next year’s budget as well. Member Mathes moved, and Member McNorton seconded the motion to hire an apprentice. After further discussion, the motion was approved 3-0.
There being no further business to come before the meeting, Member McNorton moved to adjourn the meeting. Member Mathes seconded the motion and meeting was adjourned.
The next monthly board meeting will be held on August 3, 2021, at 12:15 p.m.
Approved by: Jerry Glasgow and Mike Mathes