Sedgwick County employees could receive a 2.5 percent raise under the proposed budget released Wednesday by County Manager Mike Scholes.
In addition to the raise, the county also would have a 1.5 percent pool to offer bonuses to exemplary employees. According to county officials, 50 percent of the nearly $440 million budget is allocated to personnel costs.
The budget also includes funding for additional public safety jobs, including six positions with 911 dispatch services.
Sedgwick County Chief Financial Officer Lindsay Poe Rousseau said the addition would help speed up response times.
“This will allow us to achieve industry best practices set by the National Emergency Number Association and the National Fire Protection Association,” she said.
After hearing the budget recommendation, Commissioners Michael O’Donnell, Jim Howell and Dave Unruh suggested additions be made before the first budget hearing next Wednesday. Howell requested $25,000 in funds for senior center enhancement. Poe Rousseau said the request was not part of the budget.
“I would advocate to my colleagues that we need that addition,” Howell said, adding that the $25,000 could be equally distributed among the county’s five senior centers in Bel Aire, Clearwater, Haysville, Oaklawn and Mulvane.
O’Donnell said he had previously brought up a similar funding request to Poe Rosseau, adding that he expects the addition to be present in the budget ahead of the first hearing next week. Commission Chairman David Dennis said that he will not vote for the increased funding.
“We have a screwed up way of deciding who gets what, and we have a screwed up way of deciding how much everyone gets,” Dennis said. “We’ve been talking about this for a year-and-a-half, and we still haven’t come up with a solution.”
Dennis said in previous motions, the county has failed to evenly distribute funds among the five senior centers.
“I would say on my estimate, which is not scientific, that one-fifth of all seniors live in each one of our districts," he said. "And yet, we funnel the majority of the funding into two districts — doesn’t make sense to me.”
After the first budget hearing Wednesday, the county will host a social media town hall before it holds a second budget hearing Aug. 9. The budget must be certified and delivered to the county clerk by Aug. 24.
Evan Pflugradt is an intern in the KMUW News Lab. Follow him on Twitter @EvanPflu.