Archive for Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Board hears department requests

July 18, 2007

The Leavenworth Board of County Commissioners are gaining a better picture of the county's 2008 budget picture through hearings with department heads and representatives of agencies that receive public funding.

Last week, Commissioners J.C. Tellefson, Clyde Graeber and Dean Oroke heard from several officials about their budgetary needs. Commissioners won't adopt next year's spending plan until after a public hearing, which will be slated for sometime in August.

In hearings last week:

  • Council on Aging representatives submitted a $1.56 million proposed 2008 budget, a 5 percent increase over what was approved for 2007.

Increases reflected higher transportation costs, printing costs and a request for uniforms for department drivers.

Commissioners anticipated that more than half of the proposed 2008 budget would be offset by revenues collected by the Council on Aging, federal and state appropriations and by carryover from the 2007 budget.

  • Debbie Winetroub, with the Emergency Management Department, requested a $327,864 2008 budget, which would be a 14.7 percent increase over the approved 2007 figures.

$25,000 of that increase would pay for the installation of an emergency siren in Tonganoxie and the first installment on a lease/purchase for a department storage building.

Winetroub also reviewed projections for 9-1-1 emergency services. The total proposed $486,986 for the 2008 budget would be paid in full by 9-1-1 taxes levied on major telephone and wireless providers and not out of county funds.

  • Alliance Against Family Violence representatives submitted a proposed $27,500 budget request 2008, which would be a 10 percent increase over what the county allocated to the agency for 2007.

According to department comptroller Anna Andersen, the alliance lost approximately $45,000 from the state Attorney General's Office that funded domestic violence and sexual assault counseling when former Attorney General Phill Kline left office in January 2007.

Andersen reported that the Alliance Against Family Violence sheltered 67 adults and 70 children in fiscal year 2006. It also received 527 hotline calls and served 502 new victims through the courts.

"We're finding that (the need for services) is truly larger and there's more trauma involved, because the violence is so much more violent," Executive Director Kay Andersen, who added that the department could desperately use a substance abuse program for victims, said.

  • The commission entertained a $20,000 contribution for the county for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), a not-for-profit organization whose volunteers advocate for abused and neglected children in court, for 2008.

That's a 33.3 percent increase over what the county approved for 2007.

In total, CASA's 2008 proposed budget was estimated at $125,399.

County Surveyor Dan Schmitz submitted a proposed $172,678 2008 budget request, an increase of 7.1 percent over the figures approved for 2007.

Schmitz said that increase was due to the increased cost of personnel and workers compensation.

  • Planning and Zoning Director Chris Dunn submitted a $381,868 proposed 2008 budget, a 12.7 percent increase over the approved 2007 budget for the department.

Planning and Zoning's approved budget also grew by 44 percent from 2006 to 2007.

Increases for next year are due to a request for a new planner II for the department in 2008 and higher workers compensation costs, Dunn said.

  • A proposed 2008 budget of $113,085 for the Geographical Information Systems department was submitted for a 2 percent increase over 2007.

Department head Jeff Culbertson said the only major change was increased costs for aerial photos.

The commission also considered raising the proposed salary of a technician for department, a position that was vacated last month.

Culbertson said he has had qualified applicants for the position but that the salary and benefits were not competitive compared with other opportunities in the Kansas City metro area.

  • Director of Juvenile Services Bob Doyle presented a $732,554 proposed budget for 2008, for a 1.2 percent increase over 2007.

Doyle said there is a need for better mental health services at the Juvenile Detention Center, but no increase in funds was shown for next year.

"When it comes to the mental health of these kids, I can't not take it seriously," Doyle said.

  • County Clerk and Election Officer Linda Scheer submitted a $141,928 proposed budget for the clerk's office and a $485,507 proposed budget for the election fund for 2008.

The clerk's budget is a 13.7 percent increase over the 2007 approved budget and is due mainly to the addition of a half-time employee, Scheer said.

The election budget would be a 32.1 percent increase over 2007. Scheer said the sharp increase was due to a higher turnout in even-year elections, especially since the November 2008 election will include presidential candidates.

The increase also reflected a request to purchase new electronic voting machines for several precincts.

"There's not much to cut," Commissioner Tellefson said. "It is what it is. We have to run the elections."

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