The Kansan

Ken Horst, of Newton went to the Harvey County Commssion with his concerns about the county council of governments looking to spend money, hiring a lobbyist for another year.

The Harvey Council of Governments will possibly vote during its October or November meeting on whether to retain Bernie Koch, the lobbyist the council used last year. Koch has asked for $9,000, up from the $6,000 he was paid last year to lobby for the county.

"Everything that sizzles is not steak," Horst told the commission during its Monday meeting.

Horst asked why a lobbyist is needed when it is the job of the area's state legislators to keep them informed about issues at the statehouse.

Harvey County Administrator John Waltner talked about issues, such as the "quick dip law," which requires county jails to hold parole violators without getting reimbursed by the state. He conceded that the county and Koch were unable to keep the bill from being passed, but said it was tacked on to a "late night package" in the middle of a spending bill.

There are complex bills, Waltner said, which could adversely affect county government and legislators are not aware. He talked about a bill last year dealing with valuation on industrial property that would have had a dramatic effect on counties and caused mill levies to go up, had it passed.

"The legislators didn't understand until the lobbyist educated them," Waltner said.

Commissioners said the lobbyist is paid by the council of governments, an organization made up of representatives from the various governmental entities within the county. Each governmental body, which includes the county commission, contributes to paying the lobbyist. He is not paid solely by the county commission.

Horst told the commissioners, "I don't want you to feel like I'm a sore point," and thanked them for listening to him.

In other buisness:

The commission looked at figures showing how much the county has collected in sales tax and how much it owes in bond debt compared with other counties of similar demographics. Harvey County Assistant Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber presented the numbers to the commission.

For the third quarter of 2013, the county collected $549,447.58 in sales tax revenue, up by 1.03 percent of what it had collected last year at this time. The number is up from $497,125.98 collected in the second quarter and $534,264.90 in the first quarter.

Swartzendruber also presented numbers, showing how much Harvey County's total bonded debt per capita is compared to that of similar sized counties as of Jan. 1, 2013. Of the seven counties, Harvey County has the fourth highest debt at $6,545,000. Ford County has the highest debt at $27,455,000 and McPherson has the lowest at $2,200,000.