Following last week's budget hearings, state statutes required the county commission to make one decision earlier than most as it pertained to the Harvey County Extension Office — which must have approval of its budget or feedback within 10 days of presenting it to the commission.
An additional $14,000 in funding for 2019 was requested by the extension council during the budget hearings. Given the mindset with which the commission entered that process — to hold departmental budgets flat — it could not justify that increase at this time.
"That was our goal from the onset of March," said commissioner Chip Westfall. "If we get a big windfall in valuation, we can always readjust the status of our requests."
"If" was the key word of the day, because there is certain information (i.e. valuation) that the county does not yet have that will affect the total amount of funding it receives from the state that can then be passed on to other county departments.
Once that data is received, the county will have a more focused picture of the funds it has to disperse and could readdress the extension council's request.
"We'll know within two to three weeks what our values are and we'll have better information at that point in time to be able to make a final decision," said County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber.
Part of the reason the council came forward with that request was the fact that the state is cutting its direct funding of extension (tied somewhat to enrollment numbers at Kansas State University).
That was a fact that did not sit well with the commission.
"I don't like the fact, too, that the state cuts them and then expects us to pick up the difference," said commission chair Randy Hague.
Questions were raised about whether the extension council could use reserve funds to make up the additional funding request, but extension council board member Carol Sue Stayrook Hobbs spoke to the need to keep those reserves for unexpected costs — noting the necessity of this budget request.
"As we all know, the cost of doing business is increasing every day," Hobbs said, "and for the extension to fulfill its mission to our whole county, not just small segments of the county, a budget increase would be beneficial to that."
For the time being, the commission voted to keep the extension council's budget flat but agreed it could be amended if the valuation numbers and other data come out in favor of the county.
In other business, the county commission:
Noted the donation of a book of past minutes from the family of former commissioner Gene Wendling and discussed potentially passing that on to the Harvey County Historical Society.
Discussed the budget calendar and the upcoming all-day work session. Following last week's hearings, with a consensus that the commission would not have to worry about increasing its mill levy beyond the limit allowed, Swartzendruber said all of the following action could be pushed back. Administration will come back before the commission with a new work session date at next week's meeting.
Was informed that the candidate to replace Ron Morford as county coroner (Colin Windham) is planning to meet with the commission next week.
Approved the the hiring of McCully and Associates for consulting and assisting the county appraiser. It was a one-year renewal with a company the county has a long history of working with, though it was noted the cost for services went up slightly (about $2,000).
Approved a modernization project of the west courthouse elevator, at a cost not to exceed the proposed price of $69,663 from thyssenkrupp Elevator Corporation.
Heard a report from Economic Development Council representative Byron Warta on the status of some current potential projects, including one company looking to locate in Newton or within a 40-mile radius.
Was informed of the candidate filing deadline at noon on June 1, which county clerk Rick Piepho noted is also the deadline to change party affiliation.
Approved a lease addendum, memorandum of lease, access and travel easement, tenant estoppel certificate and deed of improvements for Ballard Aviation Inc. at Newton City/County Airport.
Approved an assignment, assumption and amendment of sublease for Kansas Chemical Coatings LLC to take over the former ABI Chemicals facility at the Newton City/County Airport.