"I'm not against collaboration, but I'm not OK with taking oversight away from the county."

The McPherson County Commission declined to participate in a K-State Research and Extension District during its meeting Monday morning.

The proposed district would include McPherson and Marion Counties and allow the two counties to share extension agents and staff, which could lead to more programming options and more specialized agents.

Agents Lindsey Friesen and Jana McKinney made the presentation Monday morning, asking the commissioners to approve a resolution to begin forming the district. They said Marion County had already agreed to form a district with McPherson County.

"We hope to keep the value of our services and make them better, while providing great programs for our residents," Friesen said.

Commissioners support working with other districts, but took issue with the financial side of the program. If approved, the extension district would create a special taxing district, in which an elected board would decide tax levels instead of the commissioners. The extension district would not be subject to tax lids.

"I'm not against collaboration, but I'm not OK with taking oversight away from the county," said Ron Loomis, chair of the commission.

McKinney said extension leaders have a history of frugality and fiscal responsibility. She also said since extension district board members are elected, voters could hold them responsible for irresponsible spending.

This was not enough to sway the commissioners, however, who declined the resolution by consent.

Kansas currently has 16 extension districts that include just under half the counties in Kansas.

Sheriff's Department

Commissioners approved the purchase of a used pickup truck for the drug task force officer. McPherson County Sheriff Jerry Montagne said the McPherson Police Department has used a pickup truck for a variety of tasks, such as transporting large quantities of illegal substances, though the specifics of how the department will use it were not discussed in open session.

The department also plans to purchase a used car. Departments usually find a suitable vehicle and present the cost to the commission for approval before purchasing. However, department officials said it is difficult to follow the normal process in this case, because dealers aren't willing to hold a vehicle for that long.

The commissioners gave the department permission to purchase a second vehicle when it is found, so long as the cost does not exceed $20,000.

Other business

The commissioners approved the purchase of snow plow blades for $11,323. They also approved a revised contract for a physician's assistant who has provided a woman's health clinic for eight hours a week for over 30 years, increasing the pay by 3 percent to $34.69 per hour.