Sedgwick County Commissioners sworn in, talk about issues to address in 2015

WICHITA, Kansas – Some old and new faces were sworn in as Sedgwick County Commissioners Sunday afternoon.

District 1 Commissioner Dave Unruh was sworn in for a fourth term as county commissioner.

He was joined by District 4 Commissioner Richard Ranzau, who was sworn-in for the second time.

The ceremony was rounded out by former state representative Jim Howell, who will take over as commissioner of District 5.

This comes after Jim Skelton chose not to run for re-election.

Commissioner Ranzau says one of the first things he wants to look at this coming year is how the county is spending taxpayer money.

“I’ve heard very clearly that people are struggling, and even though the economy has some signs of it doing better, they’re still a lot of people struggling, and they’re sensitive about to the property taxes they pay,” said Ranzau.

Some things were left unresolved in 2014 for the county.

The county’s EMS department asked for two additional crews, at the cost of $868,000.

However, the county only granted them one

The question remains about six vacant firefighter positions that were open much of last year.

An issue that wasn’t addressed when commissioners unaminously passed the $17 million firefighter budget in August.

Ranzau says the commissioners will look into every department in 2015.

“Sometimes needs go up, sometimes they go down and certainly that will be no different this year, we will reevaluate our needs in every department,” said Ranzau.

As the newest commissioner, Howell says his biggest concern is how the juvenile offender population is being handled.

“I do believe the county needs something that deals with the juvenile offender population, right now what we have is really lacking,” said Howell.

Something Howell attributes to the closing of Judge Riddel’s Boys Ranch last July.

“A small review is in order trying to find the best path forward but anticipating some type of solution, whether it be re-opening Judge Riddel’s Boys Ranch or something else that’s just as good or even better,” said Howell.

Howell says right now the county is operating at a surplus.

Howell says this should help them address other spending ventures, like moving county offices to the new IRS building and funding the new elephant exhibit for the Sedgwick County Zoo.

 

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