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Commission OKs troubled 2015 budget
Expenditures and mill levy see slight increase
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 In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:
• Approved a service agreement with Southwest Developmental Services Inc. to act as the county’s community developmental disability organizations. Under the 2015 service agreement, SDSI will provide all services required by Kansas statutes for a CDDO for a total of $70,000.
• Heard a report on Central Kansas Community Corrections. The Kansas Community Corrections Act provides grants to Kansas counties to develop and maintain a range of programs for adult offenders assigned to community corrections agencies like CKCC. A Comprehensive Plan (grant application) was submitted that set the goals for FY2014 (which ran July 1 through June 30).  The year end outcomes then sets out the results at the close of the year and requires the review and approval of the Barton County Commissioners, as the administrative county for the district.
CKCC Director Amy Boxberger said the agency exceeded its goals for the year. Of the 110 offenders discharged from the programs, 88 percent did not return to custody. CKCC also surpassed its training goal.
In a related matter, the Kansas Department of Corrections requires a budget submission of local program funding collected by community corrections agencies from program fees and reimbursements. The commission approved the carryover which totalled $93,249.16.
• Adopted the county’s authorized position listing, capital improvement and equipment replacement plan. There will be more about these in Wednesday’s Tribune.

 When it came to the 2015 Barton County operating budget, to say the year was difficult would be an understatement, County Administrator Richard Boeckman told the County Commission Monday morning.
“The 2015 budget presented some unique challenges,” he said during the county’s budget hearing prior to the commission meeting. “The budget was delayed due to issues in the Treasurer’s Office that caused the audit to be submitted to the county weeks later than normal.”
So, Boeckman stood before the commission three weeks off schedule. But, present the budget he did.
The spending package includes a 1.37 percent increase in expenditures for a 2015 total of $19,553,150. Of that,  $7,290,266 is in the general fund, which is up $5,750 from 2014.
To fund this, the budget calls for a 1.732 mill increase for a total mill levy of 37.438 mills (up from 35.706 last year). Most of this is necessary to offset revenue losses, Boeckman said.
One mill equals $1 dollar of taxation for every $1,000 of property valuation. And this was another of the challenges faced by the county.
Barton County experienced a loss in total valuation, primarily due to the state removing water craft and commercial vehicles from the personal property tax rolls and a drop in “state assessed” taxes on such things as utilities. “Valuation losses mean that for the first time in many years, a mill is worth less money,” Boeckman said.
In 2014, a mill generated $272,753.18. In 2015, a mill will bring in an estimated $270,227.22.
That drop of $2,525.96 equals about $90,000 in county revenue.
Between this loss and the loss of mortgage registration fees from the state, a reduction in the delinquent tax estimate and an increase in employer cost for employee health insurance, the county will lose $410,000. That is the equivalent of about 1.5 mills.
“This is my 11th budget and the first budget I have prepared in which both loss of valuation and revenue reductions were factors in preparing it,” Boeckman said. But, “despite the challenges encountered by the commissioners, they worked diligently to prepare a budget that provides to the taxpayers of Barton County quality services at an affordable price.”
A budget formula is made up of expenditures less the revenue. The difference is what is made up for with the mill levy.
The traditional general fund revenue sources (taxes, fees and grants) total $5.8 million. In addition, there is another $933,000 available to the road and bridge fund from the Special City and Highway Gas Tax.
As for expenditures, the budget includes a 4 percent pay increase for county employees. Several departments, most notably the Sheriff’s Office, Road and Bridge and Communications, reported problems keeping personnel due to wage issues.
In addition, there was a net increase in the money the county gives to the various outside agencies it supports. Some funding levels remained constant, some were decreased and some were increased for total of around $770,000.
It was one of these entities that drew the only public comment during the hearing. Sunflower Diversified Services Executive Director Jim Johnson objected to the $5,000 ($15,000 to $10,000) cut his agency experienced.
It’s disappointing and disconcerting, he said, that the needs of the developmentally disabled “continue to be a low priority in Barton County.” In the future, he hoped the commission would consider reinstating the funding, which has been as high as $20,000.
 After the hearing was adjourned, the agenda meeting was convened. It was during the meeting that the commission ratified the budget without any comment.
 Related to the budget, the commission approved a resolution expressing the commissioners intention to ask taxpayers for more in taxes in 2015 than they did in 2014. Such a statute is required by state law.