State schedules scales meeting

6/14/2013

By ANDY MARSO

By ANDY MARSO

Topeka Capital-Journal

Department of Agriculture officials have requested all licensed scale service companies attend a June 27 meeting, citing low accuracy rates of heavy-capacity scales.

In a letter provided to the Topeka Capital-Journal, Tim Tyson, director of the department's Division of Weights and Measures, requests all technicians attend the meeting, which is to take place in a training room at the department's headquarters at 109 SW 9th St.

"In review of large scale accuracy rates this year, rates are lower than in (the) recent past and we need to improve in this area specifically," Tyson wrote. "Additional focus of the June 27 meeting will be a new policy that requires a third party to place scales into service on new scale installations. The goal of this policy change is to improve scale performance from the start."

Tyson's letter is dated June 12, the day a third and final installment in the Capital-Journal's three-part series on scale regulation was published.

Documents obtained by the Capital-Journal showed that state inspectors approved 19 of the 72 heavy-capacity scales they spot-checked between July 2012 and February 2013. Almost half the scales were rejected for not meeting state accuracy standards.

There are about 4,000 such scales in Kansas, used to weigh agricultural products, scrap metal, recyclables and other materials. The state employs a unique, semi-privatized system in which private scale technicians install the devices and inspect them once a year.

Their work is occasionally spot-checked by Weights and Measures, which currently employs three inspectors.

The system has been in place since 1985. A 1996 audit found that the state was not providing sufficient oversight to ensure scale accuracy and Joe Hamilton, owner of an Oklahoma scale service company, told Agriculture Department leaders last year that enforcement had grown lax again, putting companies determined to follow the rules at a competitive disadvantage.

Following those meetings department officials promised a "new day" of enforcement. Tyson's letter describes the upcoming meeting as an extension of that philosophy.

"Over the past year, KDA has been working to improve the weights and measures program," Tyson wrote. "Communication with service companies and continued training is one focus of our efforts to improve the program. This in-person meeting will give us an important opportunity to discuss key Kansas laws, KDA's enforcement process and policy changes. We also will discuss scale service technician training."

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