Archive for Thursday, February 12, 2009

Leavenworth County commissioners look to staff for help paring budget

February 12, 2009

Leavenworth County Commissioner John Flower said the county has been pretty lucky that, for the most part, it has remained insulated from the worst of the economic crisis that has gripped the country.

But the toughest times may still be ahead for the county.

“We believe that in 2009 and 2010 we are going to have revenue shortfalls that will impact our budget for 2009 and certainly for 2010,” Flower said. “We feel there is going to be an impact from grants. There will be an impact from revenues, fees as well as just from what we collect in sales tax.”

On Monday, the board invited the directors of the various county departments to give their input on cutting costs.

Board members were looking at adjusting the salary package for county employees, which Flower said makes up 30 percent of the county’s budget.

This could mean cuts in sick and annual leave and longevity pay.

“We have not modified some of our personnel activity for a number of years and we are no longer in parity with a number of government agencies as to how they treat sick leave, vacation, etc.”

Flower had made some rough estimates as to what the county currently spends on the 13 days it allows county employees, the maximum it would spend on longevity and how much it costs the county during a holiday.

Using an estimate of $12 per hour wage, Flower said the county was spending around $600,000 on sick leave, a maximum payout of more than $8 million in longevity and a minimum of $47,000 in payment during holidays.

Mike Spickelmier, Public Works director, said his department had been trying to save money wherever it could, but he wanted to make sure all county employees would have a say in what steps the county would have to take in the future.

“I think the employees understand there are going to be some sacrifices coming,” he said. “They really want to be a part of the process. Let them feel that everybody gets a say. I learn more from the guys that have been here for 20-some years because they know what it was that motivated them at the time and what motivates them now.”

The board asked that written suggestions on how to improve the employees’ salary packages or ways to cut costs be submitted to Heather Morgan, the county administrator.

Commissioner J.C. Tellefson said the board would not accept any anonymous suggestions because members may have further questions on any suggestions and he promised “not to shoot anybody” for making a suggestion.

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