Commission Approves $15,000 Pool Pump, Changes County Vehicle Policy

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Services for Shawnee County parks were the subject of much debate at Thursday’s commission meeting.

Commissioners approved necessary repairs for the Blaisdell pool, but the decision was not unanimous. The commission was divided on whether to waive the county’s purchasing resolution to buy a pump for the aquatic center, and ultimately Kevin Cook voted against the measure. Cook says his opposition to bypassing the formal bidding process is based on conviction.

“I am voting against this, not because I don’t want to support the Blaisdell pool, not because I don’t think we need to replace the pump, but as a matter of principle,” said Cook. “I don’t like us departing from our purchasing agreements.”

Despite Cook's opposition, commissioners Shelly Buhler and Bob Archer voted yes. Shawnee County Parks and Recreation will spend up to $15,000 for a new pump.

It wasn't the only request drawing criticism from Cook, Director John Knight also asked commissioners for more than $400,000 to purchase new mowing equipment.

“The public does not notice if you keep the grass mowed, but it does notice if you don't,” said Knight.

Cook says the department already has 50 mowers and questioned whether new ones are worth the expense.

“One of your lawn mowers listed here, just one lawn mower is $84,740.62,” said Cook. “That's more than most people's houses.”

Commissioners deferred action on the proposal for a week to get more information.

However, they did vote to prohibit Shawnee County employees from using county vehicles to commute from outside the county's border.

Sheriff Herman Jones says his force already abides by the policy.

“For a vehicle that has Shawnee County in another county overnight, for those kinds of things it just draws questions,” said Jones.

The change will affect two employees with the public works and solid waste departments who live less than two miles outside the county.