The Harvey County Commission approved a notice for a public hearing regarding the 2013 budget, also placing a maximum limit on the budget.
The hearing is set for 10:30 a.m. Aug. 6 at the Harvey County Courthouse, where community members will have an opportunity to ask questions and make comments about the county’s 2013 budget.
The budget contains about $19 million in expenditures, and the projected tax rate is 31.316 mills, though this could vary slightly, depending on the final assessed valuation.
According to Anthony Swartzendruber, assistant administrator and finance director for the county, the maximum budget limit has now been locked in, though commissioners still can decide to decrease the budget.
Commissioners are slated to adopt the budget on Aug. 13. The commissioners had decided earlier on to adopt the budget a week after the budget hearing so they would have time to go over comments made by community members at the public hearing.
Highlights of commission’s 2013 budget discussion include:
• Commissioners decided not to reduce Newton Public Library’s ENLITE funding by $10,000 — a cut originally included in the county’s proposed 2013 budget. The cut was recommended to provide more funding for respite care without raising the county’s Department on Aging budget. Commissioners were contacted by multiple community members who utilized the ENLITE program and who did not want the county to cut its funding.
• Commissioners looked at a proposed $16,000 increase in the Harvey County Economic Development Council’s 2013 budget. The EDC is requesting $128,886 in funding from Harvey County for 2013, about a 13 percent increase. Mickey Fornaro-Dean, executive director of the Harvey County Economic Development Council, previously told the commission one of the organization’s concerns is staffing, and having enough people at the office to provide support to businesses when Fornaro-Dean is out on the road, working on projects.
n Some county staff will be seeing a pay increase, following a recommendation by the Austin Peters Group, which recently completed a compensation study for Harvey County. The study revealed some county employees were underpaid and some were overpaid.
The county’s total cost to bring its pay ranges in line with the market is about $270,000. The new pay ranges will place the county in the midpoint of the market, meaning half of all employers pay more and half of all employers pay less.
• The budget includes more road and bridge projects than in years past. Projects planned for 2013 include improvements to Dutch Avenue, such as the correction of drainage issues. Bituminous overlays are scheduled on Northwest 36th from Hesston Road to North Anderson and North Halstead Road from U.S. Highway 50 to West Dutch.
• The budget also will include two new detention center deputy positions. Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton had previously reported to commissioners staff shortages at the detention center could create safety risks.
Detailed budget information is available at the Harvey County Administration Office.