WICHITA, Kansas – Two days after one commissioner in Sedgwick County announced his own plan for a budget, we are getting a third plan.
“I guess you would call it Plan C,” says Commissioner Dave Unruh.
Unruh and fellow commissioner Tim Norton want to restore budget cuts proposed for the new budget year. They vote on Wednesday. So, do they have time to convince at least one other commissioner to come up with enough votes?
“We will both be engaging other commissioners one-on-one,” says Unruh.
A majority of the commission had wanted to cut millions from the budget. And that included cuts to anticipated funding for the Zoo, Exploration Place, county health and the Wichita Area Arts Council.
Commissioners Richard Ranzau, Karl Peterjohn and Jim Howell each had supported the idea for the new budget. On Friday, Howell offered something different.
“I do not support the current proposal on the table,” Howell told KSN last week.
So, would Howell consider the new budget proposal by the commissioners Unruh and Norton who want to restore nearly all the cuts to certain groups?
“I will not be discussing their proposal today,” commissioner Howell tells KSN today. “I am still going over my own proposal and seeing what makes good sense.”
Howell wants to fund more, but still less. For example, he says he does not feel the Sedgwick County Zoo should get an additional $338,000 next year. He believes half that amount may be appropriate.
He also says he wants to restore about $300,000 a nearly $900,000 cut to the county health department.
“Still a work in process,” says Howell. “But I’ve had a lot of conversations with a lot of community partners that we fund. Just looking at what makes sense and what we still need to fund.”
Specifically, Plan C does not raise more money through additional borrowing for the next year. Borrowing money, through more, new bonds, has been a sticking point for Ranzau, Peterjohn and Howell.
“This plan does not add more bonding on county roads,” says Unruh.
So where does the money come from in Plan C? Unruh says commissioners would have to give a little to meet in the middle.
Unruh says each commissioner would have to give up one mile of roads in their district. The county is working on paving some dirt roads, and Unruh is asking each commissioner to give up one mile of paving for the next year.
Paving through “cold mix” or “paved slurry” is roughly $250,000 a mile. Each commissioner giving up a mile would total $1,250,000.
Next, there would be a small mill levy rate change. The plan is to forego a $512,094 rollback of county property taxes. The mill levy difference would be 0.119 mills.
“This would fund our partners, and I am asking the other commissioners to consider it,” said Unruh.
The commission votes Wednesday. No more public input sessions are being offered on the 2016 budget vote this week.