County continues hearings into 2008 budget
It's budget-setting season, and the Leavenworth County Commission has been no exception to the norm.
For the past three weeks, commissioners have been in the midst of preliminary budget hearings with county department heads and agency representatives to gain a better picture the county's 2008 budget.
This year's $43.28 million budget was $2.4 million less than in 2006, allowing the mill levy to decrease by 7.7 mills.
Meetings thus far have served as a chance for commissioners J.C. Tellefson, Clyde Graeber and Dean Oroke to gather information on projected departmental revenues and expenditures.
An official budget will not be set until August.
In budget hearings Tuesday:
¢ County Appraiser Donna Graf submitted a proposed $891,000 2008 budget, an almost 1 percent decrease from 2007.
¢ County Counselor David Van Parys requested a 1.7 percent total increase for his 2008 budget, to approximately $263,000.
Increases included a 4 percent pay raise for Van Parys as well as a larger allotment for court-appointed attorneys, which Van Parys said are in greater need since a recent change in a state statute increased the number of clients that must legally be covered by conflict attorneys at the expense of the county.
Projected revenue from court-appointed counsel was projected at $45,000 for 2008.
¢ In lieu of County Coroner, Dr. Stewart Grote's absence, Van Parys presented a $64,750 budget proposal for 2008, which equates to a 49 percent increase over the 2007 approved budget for the coroner.
The proposal reflects an $18,000 increase in lab fees as well as increased burial and transportation costs.
According to Van Parys, the county is responsible for a person's burial if they are considered indigent or have no means to pay for the burial themselves.
"There's no way of predicting what the lab fees are or how many bodies you're going to find," he said.
¢ A delegation from the 1st Judicial District Court, including Judge Robert Bednar and court administrator Steve Crossland, submitted a roughly $450,200 2008 budget to be drawn from the general fund, reflecting a 0.3 percent increase over 2007.
Asked if there were any areas of unforeseen increases in 2008, Crossland said that jury fees could see a spike due to an increased number of jury trials and that interpreter services are on the rise as well.
In budget hearings Wednesday:
¢ Leavenworth County Fair Association President David Todd asked for $76,315 via a memorandum to be included in the group's 2008 budget. Funds would be for maintenance and general fair fees, and are approximately 5 percent higher than 2007.
¢ Ray Young with Leavenworth City/County Probation submitted a proposal for a $149,009 budget or a 3.3 percent increase over 2007 mostly reflecting payroll for Young's assistant and secretary.
Young said the probation department is partially funded from the Alcohol/Drug Information School revenue at $35,000 and receives additional funding from the cities of Basehor, Lansing, Tonganoxie and Leavenworth on a caseload basis, with the county providing administrative support and housing.
¢ Kansas State University Extension Office and 4-H Club representatives submitted an approximately $473,000 proposed 2008 budget, a 6.7 percent increase from 2007.
Of that amount, K-State would bear $48,204.
The largest increases in the 2008 proposed budget were due to salary and employee benefit increases for the department.
Tellefson said that if cuts were needed, it is likely the commission will revisit the Extension Office's budget.
"You have a 6 percent increase, whereas many other departments are closer to 3 percent," he said.
¢ The commission considered a $328,000 proposed budget for economic development in the county funneled through the Leavenworth County Development Corporation at $88,000 and the Port Authority at $240,000.
Those figures would reflect a 7.4 percent increase in funding.
Graeber said he fully supported the efforts of LCDC and the Port Authority, especially at such a crucial moment for development.
"I would hate to see you handicapped by not being able to do something you should," he said.