County residents question expenditures for their services

The Platte County Commission administrative session this week held both criticism and praise for entities the County often partners with to complete large projects.

The Commissioners heard a proposal to renew the County’s annual contract for services with the Platte County Economic Development Council for $50,000. The EDC was formed in 1988 as a partnership between the public and private sectors to promote business in Platte County and retain existing business. Presiding Commissioner Jason Brown congratulated Executive Director Alicia Stephens, who was in attendance at the meeting, for assisting in the attraction of Aviation Technical Services to the KCI area. “You did an outstanding job on something that will bring several hundred jobs to Kansas City,” Brown said. Last week, Gov. Jay Nixon was on hand in Kansas City for the announcement. ATS is a Washington-based aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul provider. Resident Janet Stark, who attends many Commission sessions and a member of the Platte County Republican Central Committee, questioned why the County should spend $50,000 per year to contract with the EDC. Brown and 2nd District Commissioner Duane Soper said the County had partnered with the EDC for many years, and the council provided valuable marketing and promotional services for the area. The Mid-America Regional Council also came under question when Director of Planning and Zoning Daniel Erickson brought forward the renewal of the agreement with MARC for the Household Hazardous Waste disposal program. The program agreement includes pickup events in Platte County and access to the Kansas City facility located on Deramus Avenue just south of the Missouri River. All residents of unincorporated Platte County and municipalities smaller than 500 residents are eligible to drop off items at the events and the permanent facility. Last year, MARC collected more than 1.2 million pounds of household hazardous waste throughout the Kansas City area. Stark said she believed the Fort Leavenworth Army base accepted such hazardous waste, though as the facility wasn’t in Missouri she didn’t know if it was open to Missouri residents. Erickson said he would investigate the possibility. Roger Sullins of the Farley Special Road District told the Commission that from his perspective everything the County uses MARC for saves the district money. “I’ve been with the road district for 30 years,” Sullins said. “The household hazardous waste program saves us a tremendous amount of money because that stuff doesn’t end up on our roads.” He said since Platte County joined the HHW program, he had seen a reduction in the amount of waste dumped along roads near Farley. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources on its website directs Kansas City area residents to the Deramus Avenue facility or to call the DNR office (573) 741-5401 for options for MARC collection events. During a presentation by Director of Public Works Greg Sager on the Highway 45 widening project, the Commission approved the cooperative cost-sharing agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation and the City of Parkville. The Commission was also asked to approve the cost of an administrative fee charged by MARC for supervising the state and federal grant funds involved in the Highway 45 project. MARC charges half of one percent of the total grant in administrative fees, a fee Sager said was fairly standard and freed the County from grant administrative duties. Stark and fellow Platte County Republican Central Committee member Theresa Emerson questioned the County’s relationship to MARC and how much the County paid yearly for membership and in fees. Director of Administration Dana Babcock retrieved the numbers from last year’s budget, noting the County paid about $13,000 in membership fees in 2013. First District Commissioner Beverlee Roper said she had been going to MARC meetings for a year now, and she had gone into them with caution. She said the meetings were open to the public and urged Stark, Emerson and any other interested members of the public to attend to watch the organization in action. “I have really come to realize the value of MARC,” she said. “I haven’t found any issues yet.” Also at the meeting, Brown abstained from a vote on a zoning request presented by Erickson to rezone almost 21 acres off Lantern Lane from agricultural to rural estates, because he said he believed the property contained a home he and his wife had looked at and considered buying. The Commission unanimously approved another rezoning application for about 33 acres off White Road from agricultural to rural estates.