By ANGIE HAFLICH
Finney County commissioners on Monday heard a proposal to add a new grain elevator south of Garden City on U.S. Highway 83.
Garden City Co-op General Manager John McLelland, Chief Financial Officer Brent Merz and Vice President of the Grain Division Ken Jameson made a proposal for a new grain elevator.
"What we're proposing initially is basically just south of the TV tower, as you're coming off Kraft Road to the east side of Highway 83," Jameson said.
Jameson added that the Kansas Department of Transportation's plan to add passing lanes on U.S. 83 required that the co-op's fertilizer facility be moved to a different location.
"And then the idea of the elevator came up, which has been talked about for years," Jameson said, adding that the co-op initially is proposing five bins, which will hold 200,000 bushels each.
McLelland said that co-op officials have been in communication with KDOT about the project so as not to interfere with the construction of the passing lanes.
"We're far enough off the road that it shouldn't be an issue for whatever they do with the highway," McLelland said.
When County Commissioner Dave Jones asked what the commission could do to help, Merz said that financing is their biggest obstacle, so at some point, a request may be made for a property tax abatement.
Otherwise, McLelland asked the commission for its continued support, should re-zoning or other issues of that nature arise during the planning process.
"When we have everything in order, we need to be able to go," McLelland said. "We're excited to serve an under-served part of the county."
Jameson said that co-op officials are wanting to get the project under way as soon as possible so that the elevator is ready by the fall 2013 harvest.
In other business:
* Commissioners gave final approval to a property tax abatement for Wind River Grain, LLC, for a 90-foot steel bin with a conveyor upgrade, appraised at $1 million.
A public hearing was held Monday as the required next step in the process, and with no obections from the public, commissioners unanimously approved the tax abatement for Wind River Grain, a grain facility and 110-car BNSF mainline shuttle loader focused on loading wheat and milo units to the gulf.
The county approved a property tax abatement at a 20 percent level for a 10-year period starting this year, based on a cost benefit analysis reviewed and recommended by members of the Tax Abatement Committee, comprised of officials from Garden City, the county, USD 457 and Finney County Economic Development Corp.
According to the analysis, the increase in the community's property tax base based on the company's expansion is $3.58 million in the first year and $4.67 million over the next decade. Additionally, over the course of 10 years, the tax abatement for the county is an estimated $38,272, according to the analysis.
* Darlene Lucas, Finney County human resources director, told the commission that four candidates are currently being considered for the county appraiser position. Two are scheduled for interviews on Oct. 22. The vacancy comes as a result of current County Appraiser Mark Low retiring from the position in September.
The term for the appointed position is four years. Since the remainder of Low's term runs through July 2013, Deputy County Appraiser Maria Castillo currently is serving as the interim county appraiser until a selection is made. That person will then serve the remainder of the current term and then be up for re-appointment.
In a separate interview, County Administrator Randy Partington said that, at this point, the candidates' names are confidential.
"Interviews will take place next week, and the interview committee will make a recommendation to the county commission at the first commission meeting in November," Partington said.