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Emergency Manager Jarrod Fell, right, and Lyon County Emergency Communications Center public information coordinator Christine Johnson present information on a new online reporting policy for open burns Thursday morning to the Lyon County Commission.

Lyon County residents will now be able to report open burns online after the Lyon County Commission approved updates to the county’s open burning policy to streamline reporting process Thursday morning.

The new policy takes effect Monday.

Emergency Manager Jarrod Fell said the process is decided to save community members — and Lyon County Emergency Communications Center dispatchers — time.

Previously, community members were required to apply for free open fire burning permits which were free and good for two years. They then needed to call into LCECC to report each burn and provide their name, permit number, address of the fire and type of burning.

Now, the online process takes out the permit requirement.

“So to speak, you’re no longer getting a burn permit,” Fell said. “What we want you to do is follow the online process. Reporting the burn, you’re reporting all the same information you did before, it’s just that you’re doing it online.”

For those who aren’t computer savvy or would prefer to call in their burns, that option is still available. Fell said dispatchers will be inputing the information into the exact same online system. Because emergency calls take priority, burn reporting calls may take longer to complete.

The new reporting system was designed by LCECC Public Information Coordinator Christine Johnson.

LCECC Director Roxanne Van Gundy also requested approval for travel on Johnson’s behalf to attend the Emergency Management Institute Public Information Officer course from March 22-26, 2022 in Baltimore. Van Gundy said Johnson has received funding to attend the conference and the county will be reimbursed up to $500 for travel.

“The only thing we’ll have out of pocket is a meal card for her which is $123.27,” Van Gundy said.

While commissioners were amused at the precise amount listed for meals, the expense was approved for a total not to exceed $1,000. The money will come out of the 911 Fund.

Commissioners also tabled a request to approve the development of a new GeoPermits portal with Schneider Geospatial. The county currently works with the company to run the Beacon GIS portal.

County Zoning director Sam Seeley said the portal would be used for web-based permitting for Planning/Zoning/Floodplain purposes.

Seeley said the new portal would create a “one stop shop for permitting.”

“People can even pay for their permits online,” he said. “Somebody could use a credit card to pay online and never have to set foot in an office.”

Seeley said the system would “piggyback” off of the current Beacon page and expand on the current information.

“There’s no mix-up of which piece of land this is going on, who owns it, different things like that,” he said of the permitting process.

He said the initially set up was $30,120 with a prorated hosting of $3,400. After that, hosting was $5,100 a year for three years.

County Counselor Mike Halleran said he had not seen an updated contract after reaching out to the company with questions about the initial agreement. County Attorney Marc Goodman said he also had not seen an agreement.

Commissioners then tabled the discussions until the contract could be reviewed by legal counsel.

County Engineer Chip Woods then discussed a possible hangup with a cost-share application for roadwork on County Road 110 between Roads T and W.

The work, which includes pulverizing the existing roadway and adding a 3-inch asphalt overlay — comes with a $1.5 million price tag. The Kansas Department of Transportation has said it will only reimburse the county up to $1 million.

Woods said originally it was thought KDOT would reimburse a larger sum of the project and Road and Bridge doesn’t have the $500,000 needed to cover the cost. But at this point, he wasn’t even sure if the county would be awarded the funds or not.

Woods said he spoke to County Controller Dan Williams about the possibility of borrowing funds from the multi-year fund to pay for the project. Williams said that was possible and they could likely come up with solutions to pay for the project if needed.

Chairman Rollie Martin asked Woods what it would cost the county to do the work without financial reimbursement. Woods said $1.5 million but work could likely be done to a “lesser standard” for about $750,000.

The section of Road 110 is the “worst section of asphalt in the county,” he said.

Commissioners gave Woods direct to proceed with the application.

The commission also:

Approved a quote from Constellation for a three-year fixed price for natural gas at an estimated cost of $5.055 per therm with a maximum of 10% plus margin.

Signed a letter of support for the Build Back Better grant on behalf of the Regional Development Association.

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