County Commissioners sign mutual aid agreement

Johnson County board of commissioners met for a regularly scheduled meeting Monday in which the final draft of an Emergency Services and Disaster Agency (ESDA) Mutual Aid resolution was signed.

The resolution was agreed to last year and provides that Johnson County would send or receive emergency management personnel from or to its neighbors in cases of emergencies much like the Harrisburg disaster.

“In situations where we are involved in a major disaster, this will help keep the cost of emergency management down,” ESDA coordinator Jim Haney said.  “Other counties responding to our call would pay to send their personnel as we would to help them.”

The mutual aid agreement sets up resolutions between Johnson County and its neighboring counties to lessen the financial burden in requesting help when a major disaster strikes.  The responding personnel are paid by their respective counties allowing the county in need to call for help without fear of that help’s financial burden.  The agreement also provides for a reduction in liability costs, as workers compensation would be paid by the state.

The commissioners also heard from Southern Five’s Tiffany George who provided the board an update on Johnson County’s Intermediary Relending Program.  George reported that all but one member of the portfolio is currently in good standing and that agreements have been made by the one outstanding member to address payments. Johnson County’s IRP allows businesses to acquire low cost, fixed interest loans, which are currently available at a rate of four-and-one-half percent.

“Right now we have no applications for the committee to review,” said George, adding the last application the committee received for review was nearly 20 months ago.  “We have had a few since 2008 go to committee, but none accepted.”

George said the program is in danger of losing its funding if businesses do not continue to acquire loans.  The Intermediate Relending Program has an estimated $300,000 available to loan, which George said the program may lose by 2014 if it is not used.

The commissioners also discussed briefly the need for Johnson County to improve its offices with a general consensus that a new consolidated office building is needed.  The question of where such a structure could be located was asked as department heads commented on the need of remaining on the square in downtown Vienna.  The brief debate stemmed from the increased, ongoing maintenance costs and inefficiencies of Johnson County’s current offices.

“The savings in heating and cooling costs alone is reason enough to look into improving our spaces and making them more efficient if possible,” commissioner Ernie Henshaw said.  “I think we have to start looking ahead and create a plan, even if it was a five to ten year plan, we need to start.”

Highway and County bills were approved in the amounts of $244,379.03 and $51,117.07 respectively.  The highway bills included a recent bridge replacement project that was approved for construction last year in which 80 percent of the cost was funded by the state.

The county commissioners will meet for their next regularly scheduled meeting March 25 at 3:30 p.m. in the Johnson County boardroom.


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