Friday, Oct. 05, 2012
Auditor investigating bio gas grant
County to also discuss broadband
Cass County Auditor Ron Johnson is asking the City of Harrisonville to look into their records in regards to a possible partnership with the county in regards to the Cass County Justice Center Tri-Generation Facility and a federal grant.
Johnson told county commissioners during a regular meeting Oct. 1, “We don’t have any records of it in our coffers that I could find, and I don’t know if it ever came before the Board...we just don’t have the definition of our relationship in our files anywhere that we could obtain. What I do have is the federal grant outlay by Harrisonville which explicitly talks about the relationships and responsibilities that is taken directly from the contract from the two entities, so I’ll look into that further to see what I can find.”
The auditor stated that the county previously applied for a $1.5 million federal grant, but wasn’t awarded any funds.
However, Johnson said at the same time, Harrisonville did get a grant in Dec. 2009, although they later changed the heading on it and were able to use the funds for other purposes.
“The issue here is that it states that they will maintain the generator,” Johnson said. “There are certain promises (that) were made, including metering, buying our power, and other things that we would like to find the original contract to that’s referred to. We did find this document to be very intriguing.”
Later that evening at the Harrisonville Board of Aldermen meeting, Johnson spoke up during the time for public participation about the issue.
“We had a grant come to our attention that shows over 20 times, a collaboration, and it mentions an agreement,” Johnson said. “I just need to find out about it as much as I can that’s in memory, so we can take that forward so we can establish what the relationship was and find out what liabilities we may have, and what liabilities the City of Harrisonville might have.”
City Administrator Keith Moody said that the grant was put together to pay for sewer pump station that would pump digested sewer, or sludge, over to the bio gas facility.
“This grant was awarded, it was $225,000, the bio gas facility had not been designed - there were a series of tests that were being done...the results of the test indicated that it wasn’t a feasible project and though this grant had been awarded to city, the project wasn’t going to go forward,” Moody said.
Moody called it an error, and that there wasn’t an agreement established between the city and Cass County, but further invited Johnson to make a request to the city for any further records.
In other Commissioner business during the Oct. 1 meeting, the board approved a motion to enter into discussion with Finley Engineering Company about the Cass County broadband project. The Commission previously made a request for qualifications to discuss how much revenue can be made from the project.
“The result of the RFQ process is two responses - one from Finley Engineering and one from Infotech,” said Melissa Freeman, interim broadband director. “Both seemed to be very qualified to handle the network provisioning and network piece here. Because Finley already has a lot of experience through prior engagement on this project, not with Cass County, but as a subcontractor, they would be significantly advanced in their understanding of our network goals and our open access architecture, and would be able to quickly come up to speed and be able to help us with the provider/provisioning, which will go into our provider selection process.”
Freeman said the end goal of the RFQ exercise is to have an RFP go out to the voice, video and data service providers.
“The next time I come back before the Commission on this matter, I’ll have an USDA contract with pricing and all the nuts and bolts it will take to actually enter into the agreement with the selected vendor, and you guys can then decide from there whether or not that contract is acceptable,” Freeman told Presiding Commissioner Terry Wilson.