High winds change burn ban

Staff writer

Marion Fire Chief Mike Regnier ignited a discussion about changing the parameters of the county’s burn ban protocol Monday when he met with county commissioners.

Because of controlled burns that had gotten out of control from Thursday through the weekend, Regnier notified commissioners that the majority of fire chiefs within the county were in favor of a ban. He said dry weather and changing of wind direction has led to many of the recent fires.

Because there are certain times during certain days when fire danger can be higher because of high winds, the National Weather Service issues “red flag fire warnings” to notify the public when there is a chance fires could grow out of control.

The simpler solution commissioners agreed upon would be to not allow burning for 24 hours whenever there was a predicted red flag warning or winds exceeded 20 miles per hour within the county, instead of passing a resolution to implement a burn ban. That way commissioners would not have to call a special meeting just to rescind the ban.

“Then you don’t have a burn ban for a week,” Commissioner Dan Holub said. “So when you put it on Monday but it rains tomorrow and you have to wait until the next meeting (to rescind the ban) — it’s just crazy.”

Because the current burn ban resolution has not passed, commissioners proposed to change the resolution to reflect their changes.

“To me it’s a day-to-day thing, not a weeklong thing,” Chairman Roger Fleming said.

Food vouchers available Monday

Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene informed the commission that her department will give out referral forms for the Marion County Emergency Food Bank from 9 a.m. to noon Monday and April 3 at Valley United Methodist Church in Marion.

She added that Hillsboro Community and St. Luke hospitals’ labs would do blood work for patients through Friday. No appointments need to be made and testing costs $20.

Serene also said there were about 50 expected exhibitors for the county health fair this weekend.

Holub speaks

At the conclusion of the meeting, Holub gave a presentation objecting to several tax exemptions made by the state government.

His research showed:

  • The loss of county and city revenue sharing and local ad valorem tax reduction cost Marion County more than $5.8 million.
  • The county initially missed out on $1.3 million from the Keystone Pipeline property tax exemption, and $3 million for all county taxing entities combined.
  • Since 1992, counties in the state lost more than $1.6 billion from tax exemptions and unmade transfers. Marion County lost more than $13.8 million.
  • The legislature receives a fiscal note representing all proposed bills’ economic impact, so every legislator and the governor already know the effect when a bill passes.
  • Bills in consideration for 2014, with regards to mortgage registration fee cancellation, termination of the oil and gas depletion fund, auto taxes, redefining “real” and “personal” property, abolishing the Court of Tax Appeals, and the prohibition of use of tax dollars for lobbying stand to cost counties millions more.

In other business:

  • Commissioners passed a resolution for Road and Bridge Superintendent Randy Crawford to place a stop sign at the intersection of 180th and Remington Rds. Commissioners later met with Crawford in a closed session discussing personnel. No action was taken upon return to regular session.
  • Transfer Station Director Rollin Schmidt informed commissioners of a weak floor in the east bay of the transfer station, looking for direction. Commissioners were interested in fixing the floor, but wanted to further investigate what is underneath it before taking action.
  • Commissioners approved the purchase of a $1,445 Lenovo ThinkPad from CDWG for Planning and Zoning Director Tonya Richards.

 

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