County to back JJA’s battle to control more state funds

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The Marion County Commission Monday chose to back the Juvenile Justice Authority in its struggle to control more of its state funding in a difference over interests that could pit three rural counties against more urban Geary County.

Commissioners Leroy Wetta and Howard Collett went to a meeting on JJA funding and returned to ask Commission Chairman Bob Hein to join them in faxing an immediate letter of support to JJA.

JJA officials say they can save much of-perhaps up to one half-the state funds paid to the Kansas Children’s Service League for administration by administering them within JJA. The fees total $132,000 on juvenile intake and assessment and $140,000 for family and children prevention and intervention.

Collett said the city of Junction City in Geary County apparently has KCSL work coming out of a city office “where they get money the rest of us don’t get any of.”

Collett added: “It’s a hard fact that JJA has not been able to exert its will over the entity that serves its funding, the KCSL.”

JJA operates from its base in Geary County, but also serves Marion, Dickinson and Morris counties, which have equal votes on the state funds allocated through the 8th Judicial District.

Wetta said, “I came away with an appreciation for how one county is exercising its dominance in the funding.”

Hein said it appeared the letter of support is necessary to register Marion County’s objection in writing to further contracting with KCSL.

A review of department 2003 budgets continued with commissioners hearing from JoAnn Knak, Emergency Medical Services director; Dale Snelling, park superintendent; Susan Robson, county attorney; and Jeannine Bateman, county treasurer; that their budgets will change very little for 2003 except for pay raises.

Figures from the county clerk’s office showed that the average pay increase last year for non-elected county personnel was 3.8 percent and for elected personnel was 3.5 percent, excluding the county commissioners and Robson, who received no increases for 2002.

Robson asked that for the 2003 budget she receive a 3-percent wage increase.

She said more funding has been needed for outside prosecutors because the number of prosecution cases has increased to 290 this year. In former years, it had never reached 200.

Knak said her budget will reflect an increase of 10 cents per hour for ambulance call time and an increase in carryover perhaps to $30,000 for equipment.

Knak’s planning also includes her own retirement, which she said will take place a year and a half from now.

Knak reported 54 ambulance calls for June: 21 from Hillsboro, 13 from Marion, 15 from Peabody and five from Tampa. They included seven transfers, five cardiac, 15 medical emergency, 14 stand-by, two vehicle accidents, three home accidents, seven no transports and one rescue truck.

There were two first-responder calls at Lincolnville and one at Durham.

Knak said seven EMT class members have passed everything with one needing to be retested. The next EMT class begins Oct. 1.

Snelling told commissioners revenues for all permits this year, such as those for camping, boating and fishing at Marion County Lake are ahead at $63,375.67 as of July 8, compared to $61,133.75 last year. He said the county could probably expect more revenue as electricity is added at more camp sites.

Snelling said a larger budget item in the future could be a new shop building to house tractors and equipment.

The commissioners and Snelling discussed ways to develop more camp sites out of equipment parking areas. Collet added that a shop in the future would maintain the “ambience” of the lake, with equipment out of sight, plus keep equipment from weathering.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to award a bid of $37,525 for construction of county bridge No. 135 to Andy Krause of Hillsboro. Jim Herzet, county road foreman, said Krause is ready to begin work as soon as possible.

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