By JONATHAN ZWEYGARDT
Ellis County Commission meetings will soon be broadcast on both Eagle and Nex-Tech cable systems and available to view online.
In 2016, the county commission asked staff members to look into broadcasting the commission meetings and, in 2017, the commission identified it as one improvement the commission could make in the future.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the commission gave approval to staff to purchase equipment broadcast equipment from Eagle Communications for $5,333. Eagle will install the equipment, and there will also be an annual support fee of $299.
Ellis County will own the equipment and be responsible for the upgrades, according to County IT Director Mike Lieker.
Under the agreement, Nex-Tech will handle the broadcast of the Hays City Commission meetings and provide the stream to Eagle for broadcast on its cable system and Eagle will manage the Ellis County Commission meetings and provide the stream to Nex-Tech for broadcast.
County Commission Chair Barb Wasinger asked for the issue to be placed on the agenda and said at Tuesday’s meeting, “I think this is important.”
Wasinger and Commissioner Marcy McClelland were in favor of the proposal but Commissioner Dean Haselhorst was not. With the 2-1 majority, the commission directed county staff to accept the proposal.
In other business, the commission began a discussion regarding employee wage and benefits after opting out the Public Employer-Employee Act (PEERA) at its Dec. 18 meeting.
County Administrator Phillip Smith-Hanes said they will have devote time in 2018 to define how the county will operate without unions starting in 2019.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the commission discussed the role employee input will play.
Wasinger has previously stated she wanted to create a Wage and Benefit Committee to represent county employees.
After discussion, the commission agreed the four bargaining entities should be represented on the committee with between five and seven department heads and department representatives to create a nine of 11 member committee.
Smith-Hanes said he will present the commission’s idea to the county executive team this week and bring their ideas back to the commission in the coming weeks.
The commission also approved the 2018 agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation allowing the county Noxious Weed Department to treat noxious weeds on state highway right-of-ways in Ellis County.
Commissioners also approved a rate increase at the Ellis County landfill (click on image to enlarge) and received a legislative update from Representative Eber Phelps.