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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  •  Some services lost in recent years

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  • Newton KansanAs the state makes cuts in taxes of various types, the burden often shifts to local government. City and county officials often express frustration with how things happen that are out of their control. But what does this mean for the average citizen? There have not been major reductions in things like police or fire protection, but some services have been lost in recent years. Assistant city administrator Lunda Asmani said the city of Newton has had to look for ways to provide the same services with less money. The police department went to 12-hour shifts for its officers, and that helped. Asmani said city employees are doing more now. "Seventy percent of our budget is public safety and streets. We have had to become more efficient in those areas," he said. The city also is relying more on grants for street repairs. City and county officials are also concerned when the state takes action that indirectly affects their budget. One example is a third offense domestic violence charge is now a felony. Normally felonies are served at the state prison, but now they will be served in the county jail —  adding to the city and county's costs."They are saying they are being tough on crime, but they are not the ones paying for it," County administrator John Waltner said.There have also been cuts that affect city and county residents.The LAPP program has lost state funding. This is a program where county officials inspect and help rural people with sewage and drainage issues. "We have information showing that this is a good program that people need. It is good information," County commissioner Marge Roberson said.The county still  maintains the service, but not as much as it did at one time. The time may come when the county will charge for the service. Helping people with sewage and drainage issues in rural areas could have a great impact on the water table and water quality in the county, Waltner said. "People need to understand protection of ground water affects all of us. This could jeopardize water quality for a lot of people," he said.Cuts have also impacted the county's public transportation system. This system is a group of buses and vans that take people to medical appointments. This used to be a free service, but now people have to pay a fee.Streets and roads are another area that has been impacted.There are 160 miles of hard surface roads maintained by Harvey County. The state used to send cities and counties money for road repair, but now they have to compete for the money, so it is no longer a sure thing. It costs about $130,000 to do a mile of overlay, or asphalt replacement, officials said.  
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