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County reups with lobby groups
Commission notes importance of advocacy
county commission lobby groups
Members of the Barton County Commission Wednesday morning discuss the importance of the county’s memberships in advocacy organizations - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Wednesday morning:

• Approved a resolution authorizing participation in the Rural Opportunity Zone Student Loan Repayment Program for calendar year 2023.

•  Approved the National Association Of Counties 2023 membership.

• Approved the Kansas Association Of Counties 2023 membership.

• Approved the Kansas Legislative Policy Group 2023 membership.

• Tabled until Feb. 8 a departmental update from County Attorney Levi  Morris. 

Understanding the importance of maintaining a presence on the state and national stages, the Barton Commission Wednesday morning approved renewals to a host of advocacy and lobbying organizations.

First was the National Association of Counties 2023 membership. Based on population, the dues are $553, said Operations Director Matt Patzner.

The groups supports nearly 40,000 county elected officials and 3.6 million county employees. “Founded in 1935, NACo unites county officials to advocate county priorities and federal policymaking, exemplary county policies and practices, nurture leadership skills and expand knowledge networks, optimize county and taxpayer resources and cost savings and enrich the public’s understanding and government,” Patzner said.

“That’s a lot of bang for our buck,” said District 5 Commissioner Donna Zimmerman.

Second was the  Kansas Association of Counties 2023 membership. Based on a calculation that includes a base fee, population and valuation, the dues are $6,124.34, Patzner said. 

“The association sponsors the annual KAC Conference, various educational meetings throughout the year and lobbies the state and federal legislature on behalf of Kansas counties,” he said. 

“I happen to know this one is valuable,” said commission Chairman Shawn Hutchinson, District 3. Recently, several of the commissioners attended the new commissioner training in Topeka sponsored by the KAC.

“I really think that it’s very valuable for our  county,” said District 2 Commissioner Barb Esfeld.

 Lastly was the Kansas Legislative Policy Group 2023 membership. The dues are $5,471.34. 

“The KLPG is a bi-partisan coalition of western Kansas counties with the common interest in the preservation of the counties tax base and retention of local control,” Patzner said.  With 34 counties belonging, it serves as a policy and decision-making body establishing legislative priorities at its annual meeting and providing speakers to address members about the important topics of the day.  

On Tuesday, Esfeld attended the KLPG’s winter meeting in Topeka and said this organization is worth while. “They’re very, very active and proactive in helping the counties that belong,”

The KLPG has brought a lot of  money back to the county, Zimmerman said. Several years ago, the group helped return a little over $2 million from the Oil and Gas Depletion Trust Fund, so “it’s very beneficial.”

They are also planning hearings on grain elevators which would be of great interest for Barton County, Esfeld said.