Douglas County commissioners will be asked this week to approve a process for distributing $325,000 set aside in the budget to help fund natural and cultural heritage conservation projects in the county.
Commissioners meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St.
The Heritage Conservation Council is proposing to structure the 2013 grant program the same as it was in 2012. That would mean 55 percent of the funds would be available for "major" requests of at least $105,000. Thirty percent of the funds would be earmarked for "target" projects where the requested amount is less than $105,000
Under the proposed process, applicants would have until March 15 to submit requests for funding. Presentations would be made to the council in late March. That would be followed by a review period, with the council making its formal recommendations to the County Commission by April 24.
Commissioners will also receive a status update of the county's Sustainability Initiatives. That's a program the county established in 2010 to fund projects that improve energy efficiency and lower utility costs in public buildings throughout the county.
One of the first projects funded through the program involved energy efficiency improvements at the Joint Law Enforcement Center. Officials say that has saved the county more than $100,000 in utility costs this year alone.
Upcoming projects include energy retrofits for the county courthouse, LED lights for the parking lot adjoining South Park, and web-programmable thermostats for the Douglas County Fairgrounds.
In other business, the commission will:
• Hold a public hearing on proposed budget amendments for the ambulance, road and bridge, employee benefits, special alcohol programs and grants funds.
• Consider authorizing software and hardware upgrades to the 911 phone system.
• Consider approval to consolidate all subscriber radio equipment for the county under a master service and maintenance agreement.
• Consider approval of the 2013 service and maintenance contracts for Douglas County Emergency Communications.
• And approve consent agenda items, including approval of a Douglas County Kansas Heritage Conservation Plan to be submitted to the Kansas State Historical Society for designating the county as a certified local government.