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Commissioner outlines ‘suggestion box’ comments
August 08, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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During Monday’s meeting of the Scotts Bluff County Board, Commissioner Sherry Blaha outlined some of the suggestions she’s received to help improve county government.

Blaha has been asking county employees and the public for their suggestions since last February, with 23 ideas received. She and County Clerk Vera Dulaney reviewed them and approved 14 for further research.

Blaha said one of her suggestions was to work with the Building and Zoning Department to review permit fees for such things as conditional use permits and gravel pit permits.

“I don’t think any of us knows who collects those fees,” she said. “We need to know if the fees are collected annually and just how many permits are out there. I don’t know who keeps track of those permits. That’s why I want to work with Building and Zoning on this.”

Other county commissioners have reviewed the suggestions and provided their input. The ones that can potentially be implemented will be forwarded to department heads for consideration.

Another suggestion would be to have the Management Accountant develop an inventory of all credit cards in use by various county departments. Blaha said it’s important for the accountant’s office to know where all the credit cards are assigned and their credit limits.

Also suggested was that the county use discretion in its decisions to approve out-of-town travel venues. While the county board has reduced its use of travel, each department is responsible for making its own decisions.

In his comments on county travel, Commissioner Ken Meyer asked whether they had a definition of what constitutes necessary or unnecessary travel.

And while video conferencing might be of assistance, the state’s Open Meetings Act restricts how that technology may be used.
One of the early suggestions came from County Assessor Amy Ramos. Pictometry, a method for taking 3-D photo images of property, is already in use in Hall County.

Ramos said the state requires assessors to review every property in the county within a six-year cycle for changes in valuation. But with only four data collectors and four vehicles, scheduling becomes an issue.

Using a pictometry camera, a flyover of the county would be conducted every two years. Digital images of every structure could then be compared to identify any improvements to the property. A demonstration of the technology has already been done. First responders, such as fire and police protection, could also benefit from the imagery.

However, the technology is cost prohibitive at the current time. But it might be more affordable if the cost is shared among a number of agencies that could use it.

Although the technology could become part of the county’s appraisal system, it’s currently a project for the future.

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