The Reno County Commission on Tuesday approved Fire District No. 9 purchasing two new firetrucks to replace several pieces of aging equipment and the health department purchasing news software for tracking water and wastewater permits.
The commission vote on the trucks was unanimous, while Commissioner Dr. Mark Steffen voted against the health department purchase without commenting on why.
The district will purchase the 2021 model year brush trucks from Hays Fire and Rescue Sales and Service for a not-to-exceed cost of $173,360 for both trucks.
It will station one truck near St. Joe and one at Haven, said District Chief Curly Gingerich.
With the purchase, a 1979 Chevy Mini Pumper and a 1984 Chevy Brush truck will be retired and sold along with two older truck engines.
The bid by Hays Fire and Rescue was the lower of two bids received, with a bid from Unruh fire about than $29,300 more.
In a memo to the commission, Gingerich noted the sale price wasn’t more than the cost of purchasing used vehicles, which they also explored, and will include warranties.
“This is a really good price for this type of truck,” the chief said. “The two also have larger tanks than a standard brush truck.”
Funding will come from the District’s Special Equipment fund which Assistant Chief Brad Gingerich, Curly’s son, noted has taken several years to accumulate but that should be sufficient for planned projects going forward.
The Reno County Health Department requested approval to purchase software services and an internal hardware upgrade for use by environmental services.
The agreement with Schneider Geospatial LLC includes $42,630 for the software and $7,512 for the hardware upgrade. The program is the same Beacon platform used by the appraiser’s office allowing public online property searches.
Megan Gottschalk, Interim Health Department Co-Director, said the software will allow the agency to work more efficiently in reducing environmental and chemical exposure to the public.
It will be accessible to Planning and Zoning, Public Works, water and wastewater system contractors, homeowners, and real estate agents, allowing them to file documents electronically and monitor the progress of permitting applications.
“A property owner or wastewater contractor will be able to find out where the permit process is and what work needs to happen to move it forward,” Gottshalk said. “It will speed up the process and allow us not to have to handle a lot of phone calls. Staff will have more time in the field and be more efficient.”
County Planner Mark Vonachen told the commission “there’s not a huge outcry from the public for a different process for permitting, but I feel the more options we provide to speed up permitting, the better off we are.”
They currently use a lot of paper permits, with documents that have to be mailed or dropped off, Vonachen said. The electronic system will allow documents to “be instantly in my hands.”
It will also allow people to pay by credit card online, rather than mailing in a separate check.
He estimated the program will save applicants, on average, three days on getting a permit.
Environmental Services Director Darcy Base said it will allow applicants and all the parties involved in the permitting process to see what hold-ups might be without a lot of email exchanges and tracking documents down.
The county IT Department likes it because it runs on the Beacon platform. The purchase was prompted by the county’s current data tracking software phasing out.
The purchase will be covered in part by a technology grant from the Sunflower Foundation and capital reserves, Gottschalk said.