Sedgwick County commissioners approved the $457 million 2020 budget at their weekly meeting Wednesday.
The unanimous vote came after a lengthy discussion about increasing the funding for the Department on Aging and the Capital Improvement Program (CIP).
Commissioners approved a reallocation of $125,000 to go toward senior nutrition programs, senior centers and the aging department’s other priorities.
Commissioner Pete Meitzner was one of the commissioners concerned about the aging department’s last-minute funding request.
“I’m glad we are going to do a comprehensive review of that department. I was troubled by all the discussion we’ve had,” Meitzner said. “We’re all supportive of everything about [the Department on Aging] but I want to thank the remaining 40 county departments and the managers and the advisory boards that did not come to us after the deadline for the budget process.”
The 2020 budget plan is 3.2% higher than the current budget. The county lists significant changes as:
- an overhaul of county employee compensation and benefits, including a 2.25% pay raise and a 5% increase in employer contributions for health insurance premiums
- $2.6 million in county property-tax supported funds for Technology Review Board projects to centralize the process of managing information technology
- adding three fulltime positions to Emergency Communications to help meet industry standards for call answer times during the busiest parts of the day
- adding six fulltime positions to COMCARE’s Community Crisis Center to help meet mental health needs in the community
“When we have a limited budget and we have a tax cap that we cannot exceed, we make hard decisions every single day,” said Commission Chairman David Dennis. “And if your funding is not in this budget, it is not because we didn’t agonize over it, we didn’t lose sleep over it, or we didn’t think over it.”
Commissioner Michael O’Donnell says he plans to forfeit his pay raise so the money can be used to help develop a long-term solution to his district’s ongoing flooding issues.
Homeowners in south Sedgwick County are dealing with groundwater flooding their basements following record rainfall in the area this summer. The 2nd District spans south Wichita down to Haysville, Clearwater and Mulvane.
“We are going to work with the affected residents and try to find solutions,” O’Donnell said. “The measures represent a collaborative effort by county staff who will work with property owners and keep the BOCC [Board of County Commission] updated.”
A community meeting is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 8, at Haysville Middle School, 900 W. Grand Ave.
The 2020 budget includes about $20 million for Fire District 1 operations.
Commissioners also approved a five-year $22.8 million CIP budget for the building, remodeling, and repairing of public facilities and infrastructure systems.