By Adrian Halverstadt Special for signal [email protected]
The Kiowa County Commissioners met in regular session on June 20, 2022. Their general business included approving a consent schedule, payroll, accounts payable, and minutes of the June 6 meeting.
Kerri Ulrich shared the update from the Board of Health. All of its staff are back to work and Dr Ben, medical director of KCMH, has resigned. Kiowa County has a high rate of COVID-19 transmission, and they are no longer doing COVID-19 contact tracing and have received a new shipment of free take-home test kits. Ulrich recently completed four training sessions in Wichita State and attended Red Cross Shelter Training with Sheriff Lothman and Chief Webb. Ulrich is looking for ways to expand access to food for residents across the county to counter our status as a food wasteland.
During the Public Works update, a merit payroll change for Bruce Foster was approved. It was noted that Heft and Sons sealed several roads in and around Haviland last week and will be transporting stones and repairing ditches north of Haviland over the next two weeks. Additionally, there is an increase in tires on the rim going into the dump. Stewards approved exponentially increasing tire fees to discourage people from bringing tires; the new rates will be posted on the county’s website.
Grant Neuhold submitted a budget request of $60,000 for the Media Center. The Tech Kids after-school program and summer camps will remain key initiatives. They will continue to offer printing and web design services to the community and provide video and training services to local schools. The center continues to generate revenue streams through sports video consulting. More manpower is needed to bring the efficiency of the center to a higher level.
Matt Christenson made budget requests for the general courthouse at $488,880 and emergency management at $123,000. Kari Kyle presented the Council on Aging’s 2023 budget request, including an increase to provide cooks and equipment for county food programs; currently short $175 per week. Every day 12 to 15 meals go to Haviland and 8 to 10 to Mullinville; about the same number of residents each lunch at the senior center.
Julie Lyon briefed Commissioners on economic development and submitted a budget request for 2023. She is currently working on a 2014-2024 development plan. The state delayed the opening of Haviland Daycare, and Mullinville Daycare was unable to secure insurance or the necessary employees. Lyons reported that the state has $60 million available for housing projects; the county will resubmit its housing proposal.
Sheriff Kendal Loth presented the Sheriff’s Office and Detention budget request for 2023. Both show an eight percent salary increase. In addition, a shift differential of 50 cents per hour will begin with the 2023 budget. The detention budget also includes an increase in contracted services required for inmate transportation. It was noted that deputies are tasked with patrolling each town in the county three or four times per shift. In addition, fence laws need to be reviewed and updated. Commissioners have served as Fence Viewers since 1868 and must decide the equal share of liability for neighboring landowners. Disputes regarding fencing should be submitted to the Stewards for action. Lothman reported that Kansas state law makes livestock owners liable for all damage caused by their animals.
Kristi Cooper requested merit payroll changes for employees Jeannie Finch and Shelly Tuttle; approved. Cooper presented the 2023 Clerk, Elections and Maintenance budget request. A slight increase was included to cover a five percent COLA and three percent merit.
The meeting ended with the review of all budget requests submitted for 2023.