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Sedgwick County commissioners have voted to adopt an operating budget of $390 million for county operations in 2013. The budget makes a number of spending cuts to eliminate a $9.3 million deficit.
A revised budget plan from County Manager Bill Buchanan will keep the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch open for another year, with a budget of $736,000. Buchanan said the plan will make changes in staff shifts and operations to reduce costs.
County Commissioner Jim Skelton raised concerns about a slow economic recovery and another projected deficit for 2014. He said if the state of Kansas does not provide funding for the Boys Ranch, the county will have to close it.
The budget includes a pay raise of 2.5 percent for county employees. Buchanan said the pay raise is needed to make the county competitive in the market. Commissioner Dave Unruh said he has heard from other elected officials in the courthouse about a problem with employee turnover.
There was discussion about making this a bonus pool for the end of the year. Commission Chairman Tim Norton favored going ahead with the salary increase, but a decision can be made later whether it can be a pay raise or a bonus pool.
Commissioner Richard Ranzau made a number of subsitute motions to cut funding from the Metropolitan Area Planning Department, Visioneering Wichita, and other items, while adding funding for extension programs and other areas. The motions failed on votes of 2-3, with the majority of commissioners wanting to stay with the county manager's revised recommendation.
Commissioners approved a motion with a 3-2 vote to delay planning in the capital improvement program for a possible new administration building. The county is looking at an administration building in order to make room in the courthouse for an expected addition of two judges in the 18th Judicial District. Buchanan said the action will not affect the 2013 budget.
Commissioners voted 3-2 to adopt the budget. Ranzau and Karl Peterjohn voted no, feeling that more cuts should have been made in certain areas. They wanted to add funding for extension programs and other services.
Commissioners also approved a budget for the county fire district of $18 million, which brings the total county operating budget to $408 million.