Archive for Monday, July 16, 2012

Leavenworth County Commission preparing for final budget cuts

A World War I doughboy statue stands outside the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

A World War I doughboy statue stands outside the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

July 16, 2012

As the Leavenworth County Commission nears decision time on its 2013 budget, a proposal for a new emergency vehicle in Basehor may again end up on the chopping block.

The commission will enter Tuesday, possibly its final day of budget talks, with about $650,000 available to fund county projects for 2013 while keeping residents’ mill levy steady. But nearly $1.5 million worth of projects requested by county staff remain on the table.

The bulk of that requested funding, about $920,000, is for road maintenance. But the next most expensive request, at about $240,000, is to staff and rent space for a new paramedic vehicle to be stationed in Basehor. (The funding for the vehicle itself, estimated at about $75,000, could come from an equipment reserve fund rather than the mill levy.)

Jamie Miller, director of the county’s Emergency Medical Services, has said the new vehicle would cut down on emergency response times in and around Basehor, which lag behind those in other parts of the county.

Commissioner John Flower said Monday that as the population around Basehor grows, the county will need to improve its emergency service there at some point.

“Sooner or later, we’re probably going to have to do something,” Flower said.

But Flower proposed that the county could begin setting aside funding to pay for the new vehicle sometime in the future, perhaps by allocating funds from a reserve account — thus having no effect on the mill levy for 2013.

One funding request that met its end Monday was from Flower, for an additional $200,000 to the Leavenworth County Development Corp. for advertising and marketing purposes.

He said he didn’t know if that full amount was required, but he at least wanted to start a conversation about how the county could do more to spur development.

“For us to get on the map and start bringing clients here, there’s certain things we’ll have to do,” Flower said.

The other two commissioners, though, said they would support no increase for that purpose. Commissioner Clyde Graeber said he was committed to keeping property taxes down.

“No mill levy increase or a very small mill levy increase this year — that is my goal,” Graeber said.

Among the expenditures approved Monday was $45,000 to hire a financial analyst for the county. That person would monitor the county’s debts and pursue sources of additional revenue, among other tasks, Flower said.

Flower said the commission would likely make its final 2013 budget decisions Tuesday afternoon. The commission will meet at 1 p.m. at the county courthouse in Leavenworth.

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