As the City of Great Bend begins its 2023 budget planning, the City Council during a study session Monday night heard requests from a host of outside agencies seeking funds for their organizations.
In all, eight entities are looking for making an appeal. Of those, five had representatives present Monday, including Volunteers in Action/RSVP Medical Transportation, the Golden Belt Humane Society, Great Bend Economic Development Inc., the Great Bend Public Library and Sunflower Diversified Services recycling.
No one spoke on behalf of the Barton County Fair, Barton County Historical Society and the Great Bend Senior Center. Three agencies that have sought money in the past decline this year, including the Beautification Committee, the Municipal Band and the Tree Board.
No decisions were made Monday. Council members asked several questions of the presenters and took the requests under advisement.
The requests totaled $1,294,802. Those presenting included:
• Medical Transportation – $3,000.
“One of the many things that we offer to the community through our volunteers is a non-emergency medical transportation program,” VIA Director Linn Hogg said. “There is no restriction on who uses this program,” and rides are given to patients with appointments in the area and across the state.
This is a crucial service because, for many reasons, some folks don’t have the ability to get themselves to their doctors, she said. If they don’t, they miss out on vital follow-up care and could wind up in an emergency room.
Of the 37 new riders served in May, 25 were from Great Bend. She noted she receives $14,000 from Barton County and some support from other entities, and plans to ask for funds from other county communities.
The volunteer drivers are given a gas voucher which must be used in Great Bend. However, with the cost of gas climbing, VIA has had to increase the amount it offers.
The program budget is over $28,000.
• Humane Society – $105,000.
This is a 5% increase over the previous year, said society board member Ken Roberts. The board has increased pay for the staff and is looking at offering health insurance and other benefits.
Roberts didn’t have the numbers to show how much of the society’s work happens within the city, but he did say that when it is called to assist other counties, it is reimbursed for the cost.
• Economic Development – $250,000.
This request is the same as the previous year, said GBED President Sara Hayden.
“I do want to just point out that economic development has many different facets,” she said. “We’re working on entrepreneur support, workforce development, downtown revitalization, community development, business recruiting and retention and expansion, housing, and childcare. We have so many different arms, so many different things that we’re working on.”
Among the goals is to elevate their marketing efforts, including a video marketing campaign.
Barton County Commission Chairman Shawn Hutchinson, who sits on the GBED Board, said he had a “verbal commitment” from the other commissioners to match the $250,000.
• Public Library – $660,000.
“We are asking for the same amount of money we requested last year,” library Director Gail Santy said. “One of our secondary funding sources, the Central Kansas Library System, said library will be receiving $17,000 more from the system next year.”
“I guess I’m pretty confused,” said Ward 1 Councilman Alan Moeder. “That 660,000 is a lot of money. I really don’t know what all you do.”
“it’s confusing because when most people think about a library, they just think about books, and actually that’s one of the least things we do,” Santy said “We’re community clearing house.”
They offer services for those of all ages during the week, in the evenings and on Saturdays. And, she said one of the key things people moving to an area look for is a library, and GBPL has been praised for its efforts.
• Sunflower Diversified – $18,000. The request was for the same amount last year, but the agency was awarded $4,500.
“The largest job opportunity that we currently offer for clients at Sunflower is in the way of recycling,” said Shelby Zuniga, Sunflower’s chief financial officer and interim executive director. “We provide citizens of Great Bend with a full-service recycling center where they can play a large part in keeping unnecessary waste out of the local landfill and contributing to our green community.”
They process approximately four million pounds of recycling material every year, she said. They operate the recycling center on West 10th Street and a recycling trailer near Park Elementary School.
She was asked about the possibility of adding a second trailer at the center location to serve needs after hours.
• Of the other agencies not present: The fair seeks $10,000, up from $5,000 last year; the Historical Society seeks $20,000, up from the $10,000 it got last year; and the Senior Center seeks $228,802, up from $217,000 last year.