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More than a dozen people urged Sedgwick County commissioners to preserve funding for senior centers and county extension programs, as commissioners held their first public hearing Wednesday on the county's 2013 budget.
The $408 million budget calls for the layoffs of 79 employees and the closing of the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch, as well as a $177,000 cut for the county extension center and a 10 percent cut for senior centers.
Retired Wichita State University professor Delores Craig-Moreland urged commissioners to reconsider the closing of the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch for juvenile offenders. She said studies of similar programs have found that the county gets back $24 for every $1 it spends on programs at the boys ranch.
Commissioners plan more public hearings on Aug. 9 and Aug. 14. They will vote on a final budget at their August 15 meeting. They voted to set the maximum property tax levy to support the 2013 budget.
The total amount cannot go up, but it can be lowered before final adoption of the budget.