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Government

Sedgwick County Releases Proposed 2017 Budget

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Deborah Shaar
/
KMUW/File Photo
The Sedgwick County Commission meets to discuss the proposed 2017 budget Wednesday.

Sedgwick County released its recommended spending plan at its commission meeting today, and in it, public safety is made a top priority.

The Sedgwick County budget for next year is just over $424 million, up about 2.4 percent from this year. The budget covers county government and Fire District #1. Public safety is slated to receive the biggest chunk of the budget. 

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Credit Nadya Faulx / KMUW

The estimated property tax rate is slightly lower than what county residents are currently paying because the county is going back to the rate adopted in 2010.

County Manager Mike Scholes said there’s no substantial reduction of county services planned, even though several programs are being eliminated.

"These are proposals that came from the staff not directed by management or anybody as efficiencies that they felt like they could make in terms of doing things better," he said.

?The county reallocated its funding based on newly defined priorities. County departments and functions were divided into three categories.

“Tier 1” is described as the core activities of county government such as public safety (EMS, sheriff, district attorney, Fire District #1, corrections), elections and public works (highways).

“Tier 2” is described as general administrative and internal support agencies such as facility maintenance, tax appraisals, developmental disability services, info technology, finance and legal services. “Tier 3” is described as discretionary services such as human services.

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Credit Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Under the priority-based budgeting, the proposed 2017 plan includes a 5 percent increase to Tier 1 services; a .08 percent decrease to Tier 2 services and 3.6 percent decrease to Tier 3 services.

Under the plan, the health department and COMCARE are at the bottom in the “discretionary” category.

That doesn’t sit well with Commissioner Tim Norton.

"When you get into health department and mental health and senior services those are critically important--in the realm of public safety, even--and I think we should revisit that," he said.

Chairman Jim Howell said labeling county functions as “discretionary” merely means that the county has more flexibility in determining funding levels.

Public hearings over the budget are planned for July 27 and August 4.

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Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.