County projects mill-levy increase of 1.697 for 2010 budget

The preliminary mill levy for the 2010 budget was estimated at 1.697 mills during the Marion County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday.

The commissioners said the figure isn?t final because they are still going through the budget, as is Scot Loyd, budget consultant with Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk and Loyd at McPherson.

They expected Loyd to come to the commission?s payday meeting Friday to resolve the final figures, although they said the session could go into Monday, Aug. 3.

The county?s valuation used to determine the mill levy is $102.42 million, according to Loyd, compared to $101.97 million last year.

At an all-day budget planning session with Loyd July 23, the commissioners said they were pleased with the way most department heads held the line or reduced budgets despite rising costs.

For example, County Clerk Carol Maggard was trying to hold down costs on outside expenses while maintaining employee hours with a 2 percent wage increase.

Maggard pointed out how requirements from the state frequently make financial management difficult for counties when it comes to election expenses.

For instance, she said she has no way of knowing whether machines for handicapped voters will continue in use, or if the state will require everyone to change machines.

Commissioner Bob Hein said Marion County is fortunate because the sales tax receipts here have continued to increase while they are declining in some other counties.

Commission Chairman Dan Holub said, ?We are in better shape than anticipated early on.?

Commissioner Randy Dallke added, ?Things are looking really good so far.?

WRAPS funding

Peggy Blackman, coordinator for the Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy, said the commitment of $30,000 in the county budget for programs at Marion Reservoir comes at just the right time for critical work to continue.

She said some of the county funds from last year were used to match grant funds from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the Turkey Federation for shoreline stabilization with buffers and seeding.

This year?s contribution, she said, will help with global positioning system mapping of conservation measures on cropland and later monitor for future planning.

It will help continue Kansas State University studies to show water flows and quality that will ensure practices to maintain water for communities that depend on lake supplies, she said.

One study to be done through KDWP will deterime whether a program to remove rough fish from the lake is raising plankton levels to help offset potentially dangerous blue-green algae infestations.

?If we don?t protect the quality and quantity of water, there won?t be any cities or agriculture to worry about in the future,? she said.

Even though the cities are having problems with water manganese and iron levels, an infestation of mussels, plus the usual blue-green algae problem, Blackman said she still gets no funding from the cities.

She said the cities are refusing even to have her on their agendas because they say they don?t have money for programs.

Dallke said this problem dates back to the usual city conflicts with rivalries in the county. ?One doesn?t want to spend money the other isn?t.?

Hein said, ?You would think they would see the importance of it. You?ll not get any of them until one steps forward so the other agrees to also.?

Blackman and the commissioners noted there is a community lawsuit in Texas against Oklahoma for not protecting water quality coming downstream, and Oklahoma has sued Missouri and Arkansas for actions polluting water.

They said it is only a matter of time before there is a lawsuit from Oklahoma against Kansas if citizens here don?t step forward to solve problems first.

They warned that such a legal battle could affect water supplies here.

CDDO needs

Elizabeth Schmidt of the Harvey-Marion County Community Developmentally Disabled Organization said county funding also remains critical for CDDO and grant programs at a time when the state is cutting its budget.

She said the CDDO serves 176 persons, including 19 adults in Marion County who depend on it to live independently.

Road equipment

In consultation with road and bridge personnel, director John Summerville and shop superintendent Tom Holub, and Garrett Clay of Foley Tractor in Salina, the commissioners determined they want to do a $30,000 buy-out of three Caterpillar series ?12? road graders they have leased from Foley since 2004.

In addition, they said they would like to lease-purchase at least one new $218,990 series ?140? grader at a possible payout plan of $3,037 monthly. The ?140? would come with snow blade for greater snow-removal capability, they said.

Jay said ?12s? have been known to function well up to 19,000 hours. He recommended a program of regular grader replacement instead of ?replacing them when they break down.?

The commissioners said they would study the county inventory of 14 regular route machines further before deciding further on replacements.

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