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Government

County Officials Hold Final Public Hearing Over Sedgwick Co. Budget

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sedgwickcounty.org
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The final public hearing on the Sedgwick County budget takes place on Thursday night. County commissioners are expected to vote on the 2017 budget proposal next week.

KMUW’s Deborah Shaar explains the forecasted operating deficit.

The county manager is recommending a budget of $424 million with an operating deficit of about $4.5 million.

The deficit will be due primarily to one-time capital improvement projects and the commissioners’ desire to fund road and bridge projects with cash instead of bonds.

Chief Financial Officer Chris Chronis says the county’s five-year financial forecast shows operating deficits for four years, but then a surplus for 2021.

"We think that this budget not only serves the community well for 2017, but we think it also sets us up for a very good future," he says.

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Credit Sedgwick County Finance Department

Chronis says the deficits expected in the next few years are due to a Capital Improvement Program that includes projects that will be funded with cash rather than with debt.

Commissioner Dave Unruh has said using debt financing for some of the capital improvement projects might give the county some flexibility with the budget.

Chronis says shifting to the financial strategy would open up some options.

"We have more cash going to capital projects in this budget than we have fund balance funding the budget," he says. "So in theory, if we were to use debt to fund those projects, we could reduce the use of fund balance to nothing; we could reduce the property tax rate; or we could use the funding that is freed up—that is that we are proposing to allocate to capital projects—to increase services in some area."

The public hearing will take place at 6 p.m. on Aug. 4 at the Sedgwick County Courthouse.

You can review the budget and leave comments in an online forum at http://www.sedgwickcounty.org/finance/2017budget.asp.

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Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar

 
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