While a somewhat lengthy process, the Harvey County Commission's budget planning for fiscal year 2019 officially came to a close at Monday's meeting after a good amount of work was invested by multiple parties.

"Over the past seven months, staff have worked to create a budget with the guidance of the county's mission, which is to provide our citizens with beneficial, essential public services in a professional, courteous and fiscally responsible manner," said County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber. "The budget you're considering today will allow Harvey County to fulfill its mission, and it prioritizes how the citizens' money will be spent."

"It's their tax money," Swartzendruber said, "and we want to spend it in a way that's beneficial to them."

The proposed budget of $27,020,174 (along with a five-year capital improvement plan lined out) is something Swartzendruber pointed to as a "road map" for the upcoming year for the commission — highlighting a number of priorities the budget seeks to address. Among those priorities are maintaining and enhancing county parks, providing resources for the sheriff's office and 911, upkeep of county infrastructure (including 164 miles of paved roads, 280 bridges, etc.), the safety of county facilities and more.

Following the tax lid policy, the county had the authority to raise the total mill levy by .0163 mills to collect an additional $47,695 in ad valorem taxes (which make up a little less than 50 percent of the county's revenue). Proposing the collection of $12,874,765 in ad valorem taxes for the 2019 budget, though, allowed the county to decrease the overall mill levy by .005 mills.

While the proposed budget follows the fund balance policy the commission adopted several years back, Swartzendruber said there are a number of factors that may effect that over the course of the year — from tax delinquency rate to actual revenue collection (i.e. sales tax, departmental fees, etc.) to additional expenditures (i.e. numbers of juveniles in custody, prisoner transports, etc.).

"There's a number of things that we cannot predict from year to year that impact what our expenditures may be," Swartzendruber said.

Factors that have been figured in to significantly impact the general fund include a remodeling project of the joint law enforcement center shared by the sheriff's office and Newton Police Department, along with improvements to the Harvey County Courthouse. Those are among some of the expense figures that could fluctuate, though administration is hoping they stay at current projections given that the proposed budget accomplishes the county's mission and addresses key priorities for its citizens.

Many voices were heard throughout the budget planning process — including that of Swartzendruber, Director of Finance Dan Bronson and department heads — and the commissioners were grateful for the work that was put in to get to the final adoption.

"It's been a long seven months for a lot of people who worked on it," said commissioner Chip Westfall. "Thank you very much."

Unanimously, the commission voted to approve the 2019 budget as presented.

"And just think," Swartzendruber said, "we're only a short four months from starting this process over again."

In other business, the county commission:

Made an addition to the calendar, agreeing to participate in Saturday's parade as part of Old Settlers festival in Halstead.
Discussed holding a joint meeting with the Newton City Commission to discuss the remodel plans for the joint law enforcement center and airport building improvements, targeting Aug. 21 (during a city work session) as an ideal date.
Was updated on an upcoming quad county meeting on Aug. 20, being informed the meeting — hosted by Butler County — will be held in Augusta.
Approved the Central Kansas Regional Solid Waste Authority five-year management plan.
Learned from Health Department Director Lynnette Redington that eight local companies participated in a WorkWell Kansas workshop last week, making them eligible for $10,000 in funding through the Healthy Pathways grant.
Received statistics for the month of July from Harvey County Sheriff Chad Gay, which included 145 cases pulled, 337 traffic stops, 77 tickets issues, 69 arrests, eight non-injury accidents, seven injury accidents and three deer accidents. He also noted average capacity of the jail for the month was 108 inmates, with 249 people booked into the jail over the course of the month.
Was reminded by county clerk Rick Piepho that polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for Tuesday's primary elections.
Heard that the Parks Department's fishing futures station at the county fair was well received over the weekend.
Toured some of the county bridges that have recently been replaced or are currently in that process.