The Barton County Commission will consider its 2012 county operating budget on Aug. 15, however the decision just to officially publish that budget took two votes to be adopted this week.
County Administrator Richard Boeckman explained the commission has put a great deal of effort into the proposed budget, which continues the county’s mill levy at the same level as the 2011 budget held.
However, due to an increase in the valuation of property in the county, each mill is worth more, so the county budget actually increases, Commissioner John Edmonds noted when he was discussing his opposition to the proposed budget.
There were also concerns about changes to the budget that impacted funding for local developmental disability groups, and that brought Commissioner Kenny Schremmer into the opposition when the issue was first discussed.
In the first vote on the issue, Edmonds and Schremmer were opposed and commissioners Jennifer Schartz and Homer Kruckenberg were in favor. Commissioner Don Cates was absent.
In the discussion that followed the tie vote, Schremmer explained he sought an increase of $25,000 for adult programs for disabled individuals, with that money coming from the county’s “exceptional cases” fund, which means that increase did not impact the budget figures.
The budget as it will be presented Aug. 15 features a continuation of the current mill levy at 32.099 mills. However, Boeckman explained, due to an increase of 7.7 percent in the valuation, the county will be a revenue increase of about $597,000.
Most county departments will remain at the 2011 level in the proposed budget, though there would be some increases and employee pay would increase by 2.5 percent.
The budget would also provide for the addition of three more detention officers at the county jail, approved as a safety measure, it was noted.
And county ambulance services would see a total increase of $25,000 for training.
Edmonds stressed that, while the mill levy figure did not increase, because property values increase, the county will be taking in more taxes, to the extent that, if the level was maintained over nine years, the county taxes would double. Edmonds said he could not support that level of increase and he voted against the budget being forwarded at this level.
With Schremmer’s support, following the increase of adult program spending, the majority of the commissioners approved publishing the budget and it will move forward to the Aug. 15 budget hearing.
Also at this week’s commission meeting, the commissioners approved the purchase of a 2010 Dodge Caravan SE from Dove Buick, Olds, Cadillac, of Great Bend, at a cost of $14.995, after a $5,000 trade in for a 2000 Ford Windstar.