Daily Archives: Aug. 11, 2010

Commissioners pass Sedgwick County budget

Sedgwick County commissioners have approved a budget for next year that reduces a raise pool for employees from 4 percent to 2 percent.

Commissioner Karl Peterjohn voted against the budget.

Peterjohn said he voted against it because “there’s more we should do and there’s more we can do” to reduce the budget.

Cutting the raise pool will allow the county to roll back the mill levy by about one-half mill.

County making headway on next year’s budget

After a lengthy discussion that has followed several budget workshops and hearings, Sedgwick County commissioners appear closer to a vote on the county’s budget for next year.

Commissioner Dave Unruh has proposed passing county manager William Buchanan’s $415 million recommended budget with the exception of a 4 percent pool for employee raises. Unruh is calling for a 2 percent pool with commissioners exempting themselves from a raise. Other elected officials would decide whether to exempt themselves.

Reducing the raise pool by half would allow the county to roll back the mill levy by one-half mill.

Stay tuned to Kansas.com for updates on today’s vote.

Commissioner: I will not support a 4 percent increase

Discussing next year’s budget, Sedgwick County commissioner Karl Peterjohn made it clear he will not support a 4 percent raise pool for employees.

County Manager William Buchanan proposed the pool, which would cost about $6.2 million, but advised that commissioners not decide until later this year how much, if any, and when to award raises.

He stressed that county employees this year making more than $75,000 did not receive raises and staff who make less than that received 2 percent across-the-board raises.

He said that under next year’s budget, the city’s upper and mid-level managers will draw from a 1 percent raise pool and that city employees this year received 2.5 percent increases.

Peterjohn said he would like to see the pool dropped to 1 percent. He said he also wants to cut the county’s mill levy by one-half a mill.

Commissioners Dave Unruh and Tim Norton said they support dropping the raise pool to 2 percent. Norton said he doesn’t want to get rid of raises altogether because that could lead to salary compression, which ultimately costs the county more money when it comes time to hire new staff.

The board appears poised to forego raises for itself.

As he often does, Peterjohn quoted from a historical figure, George Washington, to reinforce that carrying debt is dangerous to everyone, including government.

The county has ample reserves, but this year’s proposed budget does dip into them.

Stay tuned to Kansas.com for more on next year’s budget, proposed at $415 million.

Commissioners vote down grant application for regional planning

Sedgwick County commissioners voted not to approve a grant application for $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Regional Economic Partnership had been asked to apply for the grant on behalf of a consortium including the city of Wichita and Sedgwick, Butler, Sumner, Reno and Harvey counties.

Sedgwick County would have served as the agent for the grant.

The grant would have supported planning efforts to think regionally when making decisions about housing, land use, economic, economic and workforce development, transportation and infrastructure improvements.

Commissioner Karl Peterjohn was not supportive of the grant, saying the federal government is spending money it doesn’t have.

Commissioners Kelly Parks and Gwen Welshimer also voted against applying for the grant. Commissioners Tim Norton and Dave Unruh voted for submitting a grant application. Unruh said if his tax dollars are spent, he’d rather seen them spent in this region.

The grant was part of the $100 million Sustainable Communities Planning Grants Program.

Commissioner dresses in overalls to celebrate farmers

Sedgwick County commissioner Kelly Parks is wearing a plaid shirt and overalls today to celebrate Kansas farmers.

August is Kansas Farmers’ Market Month, which draws attention to markets such as the one at the Sedgwick County Extension Center at 21st and Ridge.

Commissioner Karl Peterjohn said he recently enjoyed going to the market with one of his children and joked that he was sad that vendors had ran out of sweet corn.

“And don’t forget the extraordinary shopping experience,” commissioner Gwen Welshimer said, referring to the art, jewelry and other non-edible products sold at the market.