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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Commission: Cut budget or raise taxes?

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  • After hearing from various departments, Harvey County Commissioners will have to decide whether to cut the budget or raise taxes in order to fund all 2014 requests.
    Anthony Swartzendruber, assistant administrator and finance director for the county, presented commissioners with a rough draft of the county’s estimated revenues and expenditures for 2014. If commissioners choose to fund all budget requests and capital improvement program requests with cash, the county mill levy would need to increase from 31.449 to 40.664, a total of 9.215 mills. Whether or not there will actually be a tax increase has not been determined at this time.
    "It’s the reality of what you’ve seen so far, of what’s been presented to you," Swartzendruber said. "This is what would happen if everybody got the green light."
    Commissioners also will be considering general fund supplemental requests totaling $295,097, or 1.144 mills. Some supplemental requests — such as additional funding for increasing electricity, water and sewer costs — can’t be avoided, but others — such as additional staff members — can be delayed or vetoed if the commission decides, Swartzendruber said.
    Commissioners will view the recommended 2014 budget at their July 8 meeting, and then will discuss the budget at a workshop July 16. A public hearing currently is scheduled for Aug. 5, and the budget adoption is slated for Aug. 12.
    Other business
    Commissioners also heard presentations from the Harvey County Sherriff’s department about contracting out food and medical services for the county detention center.
    Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton reported currently inmate meals are prepared by a crew of inmate workers. Although an audit flagged the practice and recommended supervision for the inmate workers, Walton said the detention center does not have enough manpower to watch the workers as they prepare the food.
    Consolidated Correctional Food Service, based out of Des Moines, Iowa, submitted a proposal to provide food at the jail. The company already serves 35 to 40 jails, including facilities in Atchison and Jefferson counties. Estimated cost for Harvey County per meal (based on about 110 inmates) would be $1.24. The cost per meal now is $1.46.
    Consolidated would take on the responsibility for liability and would hire two positions — one full-time, one part-time. Inmate labor still could be used but would be under supervision. The company takes care of meal planning and makes sure the food contains the right nutritional content, based on regulations.
    "You guys know how to run the correctional facility, we know how to run the kitchen," Consolidated sales consultant Lori Petersen said during the presentation. "It’s a perfect business partnership."
    Commissioners also heard a proposal from Advanced Correctional Healthcare about contracting out jail medical services, as well. The company offered two plans: five days a week, 12 hours a day service with an RN and an LPN ($202,000 for a 12-month contract), or seven days a week, 12 hours a day with three LPNs ($212,500 for a 12-month contract). A doctor would visit weekly.
    Page 2 of 2 - Swartzendruber said the county could see savings in decreased liability costs and cheaper supplies.
    Commissioners will consider both proposals before reaching a final decision.
     
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