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State: Accuracy of heavy capacity scales improving

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The accuracy of the massive scales used to weigh millions of dollars' worth of Kansas crops and other goods each year improved markedly in the first half of the 2014 fiscal year, state officials said.

In early 2013, state inspectors approved just 26 percent of the large scales, which are used to weigh truckloads of scrap metal, recyclables and agricultural products.

Almost 50 percent of the scales tested did not weigh accurately enough and others did not meet state specifications, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/XxlDeA ).

Changes in leadership, more money and increased state scrutiny helped improve the situation, officials said. In the first half of fiscal year 2014, inspectors approved 45 percent of the scales checked and found only 27 percent to be inaccurate.

"Certainly we want that to be better in the future, but I think we're making progress there," said Kansas Deputy Agriculture Secretary Chad Bontrager.

For nearly 30 years, the department has used a semi-privatized system that licenses technicians from private scale service companies to inspect commercial scales. A few state inspectors would then spot-check a fraction of the private work.

That system still remains, but improvements have been made since a scale service company owner complained that lax state regulation was compromising scale accuracy and putting conscientious companies at a competitive disadvantage.

Kansas had three state inspectors in 2013. Gov. Sam Brownback requested $430,000 to hire four more this year, but the legislature only approved $270,000.

Bontrager said the department is making the money it received work. The state had four inspectors in 2014 and is now looking to hire a fifth.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

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