Cuts to be made to Sedgwick County Budget

WICHITA, Kansas – Cuts are on the way, says one Sedgwick County commissioner.

“We will be presenting a budget for consideration on Monday,” say commissioner Dave Unruh. “And there will be some significant impacts on our services.”

KSN reached out to the Sedgwick County Zoo for comment, because Unruh said the zoo may see a reduction in funding.

“The cut that’s being proposed, which we of course hope does not come to pass, is very substantial,” says Zoo Board President Mark DeVries. ” Given the size of the cuts, it’s a little around several hundred thousand dollars is what the cut is, which is a very sizeable piece.”

Devries says the impact would likely mean some cutting at the zoo, but he would not say where zoo leadership would cut.

Unruh says the budget that will be presented at Monday’s county commission meeting will have significant reductions to groups that get half or more of their funding from the county.

Unruh says Exploration Place may see a reduction in funding from what it’s seen in the past. Others may include the Greater Wichita Area Economic Development Coalition, and the list goes on.

“Maybe no new EMS station in the Northeast part of the county,” says Unruh.

Unruh adds the reason for the cuts, has to do with backing off bond funding. He explains that a majority of the commission is wanting to pay cash for projects, and no longer issue bonds to be paid over years.

“The decision to eliminate bond funding from County projects means the elimination or deferral of $9 million in facilities projects and the  cash funding of our regular $4 million of county road projects.  The cash funding of the roads means that has to come from our general fund budget, therefore cuts have to be made.”

Unruh says he will not vote for the proposed budget coming up as he sees it now, and he claims the county has nearly $60 Million in reserves.

“We will continue to engage commissioners, hopefully, in advance of their meeting on Monday,” says DeVries. “so we are a little confused as to what is the source of the (potential) cuts and why.”

Unruh points out some of the cuts may mean a cut in planned increases for some agencies that are funded, in part, by the county. He says the cost of everything from health insurance for employees to electricity and general maintenance goes up each year, so agencies need a small increase to avoid cutting services.

Other commissioners have publicly said that county revenues have not gone up as expected because of property tax revenues being flat.

Commissioner Karl Peterjohn told KSN last week the county needs to be responsible with budgeting and he says because of flat revenues, some cutting could be required.

The county commission meeting where the new budget will be unveiled will be at the county building, downtown. It begins Monday at 9:00 a.m.



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