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Change is tough, even for counties
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As most Americans continue to strain their vision watching for the promised economic recovery, it’s not just the working class that is having a difficult time making ends meet.
County and state government entities around Kansas are having to make some difficult decisions and county officials are tired of those decision, at the state level, adversely impacting the county economies.
The issue was raised a couple of ways when Barton County Commission members attended the recent Kansas Association of Counties annual meeting in Topeka, as the commissioners discussed when they met this week.
Consolidation issues were discussed in a variety of means around the state, but it doesn’t appear that all of the ideas would be good for the counties, commissioners suggested.
Commissioner Jennifer Schartz noted that in one of the meetings she attended there was discussion of the suggested changes that would allow several county Extension departments to consolidate and to create a separate taxing entity, rather than working within the county frame work.
The plan as suggested would not close buildings or cut staffing and Schartz questioned where the savings would come from, especially for the larger counties — such as Barton County — that could likely find itself with additional requirements to meet.
Commission Chairman Kirby Krier noted the Extension changes would benefit the state only if some very difficult choices would be made. “I can see a positive there, if they went ahead and cut staff.”
Though this was a gathering of county officials, there were also discussions about school consolidation possibilities, and Commission Homer Kruckenberg said he can’t see much of an advantage, so long as school administrators, especially superintendents, continue to receive “obscene” levels of pay at the expense of the educators. “That’s probably the thing that interested me the most as an old school man.”
While Krier questioned why there’d be discussion of consolidation of schools at a county event, he did note that when there is consolidation it can open doors for county government.
He noted that in Hodgeman County, when the schools were moved into Jetmore, it left Hanston with empty school buildings and the county made use of them for a new county business incubator.
There were all sorts of other programs discussed and Commissioner Kenny Schremmer said he was impressed with towns around the state working on transit systems, including Hays, Dodge City, Manhattan and others.
The systems provide transportation for elderly residents who need to get to medical treatment, or else they have to move out of their homes and out of their hometowns.
Schremmer said he plans to investigate the system for Barton County in the coming year.