• Charlene Sims, Journal staff

Commission gives preliminary budget approval for departments, agencies

Updated: Jul 8

MOUND CITY – The Linn County Commissioners continued to hear 2023 budget presentations by department heads and directors of organizations on Monday, June 20. They tentatively approved all budgets presented.

Information Technology (IT) Director Chris Martin presented the IT department budget of $158,450, which was an increase of $3,000 from the 2022 budget.

Martin summarized the work of the IT department. He said the Linn County IT department provides support to over 25 elected offices, departments, and organizations – including the sheriff’s office, jail, dispatch and law enforcement, clerk, treasurer, register of deeds, county attorney, public works, all of the sub-departments under them, fire and emergency management.

IT also takes care of district court, the court clerks, the judges and the court services. We handle all of the technology for the Sixth Judicial Community Corrections, the Linn County Fair Board and quite a bit more, he said.

Martin said his department operates the single largest network infrastructure in Linn County. IT currently maintains three radio towers, 22 high speed wireless network links, eight building-to-building fiber links, 76 network switches, 16 routers, 36 servers, 98 wireless access points with over 200 daily wireless users, 50 plus daily VPN connections (including the county’s patrol vehicles), more than 22 different software systems for all the county operations, and 122 security cameras.

Martin said that the only capital expense for 2023 was a new laptop for IT support staff Nick Graham. He also pointed out that, since they had taken on the expenses of fuel and maintenance by taking over a second vehicle from the sheriff’s office, it added some to the IT budget. The increase for these items was $3,000 bringing the total 2023 budget to more than $158,400.

He said that the IT staff was doing remote work with other departments when possible to save on fuel costs.

Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower, who is also manager of the Linn County Airport, sought approval for the airport 2023 budget of $65,700 and the Elderly budget of more than $245,000.

The Elderly budget covers the expenses of meal sites in Linn County, as well as transportation costs and meals on wheels, said County Clerk David Lamb.

Hightower told the commissioners she would present the Economic Development department budget next week. Because of a grant recently submitted by Hightower for a baseline environmental study for the industrial park, the department budget will have an additional $5,000 added to it for the match on the grant.

Hightower told the commissioners that the Request for Proposal for the environmental study were due on Tuesday, June 21, and so far she had received one.

GIS/Mapping Director Pam Cannon told the commissioners that the total of the GIS 2023 budget of $152,300 had not changed from the 2022 budget but that she had shifted some line items. Cannon explained that the GIS department in many ways ties all of the other departments together. She said they worked for every department.

Cannon said GIS did all of the agricultural use and property boundaries for the appraisers office. She said they also did all of the information for 911 dispatch.

The next budget that came in front of the commissioners was the County Appraisers budget by Appraiser Kathy Bridges. Bridges said that her budget was $335,000, a 4.7 percent increase from $320,000 for 2022.

Bridges said that the increase in postage plus merit increases as a result of training and education led to this increase. She said that some money was being saved with the virtual training so that staff did not have to travel.

Bridges said that her commodities line item had gone up basically due to the rise in inflation.

Tri-Ko Inc., the organization that serves intellectually and developmentally disabled adults in Linn, Miami and Anderson counties, was represented by the Executive Director John Platt.

The organization, which had its roots in Linn County, provides workshops, for individuals 18 years old and older. The services include day services, pre-vocational, vocational, retirement, and valued activities based on the individual’s wants and needs.

Platt said that Tri-Ko offers residential services also. Tri-Ko has four group homes, one in La Cygne, one in Garnett, and two in Miami County.

Tri-Ko serves 150 people in the three counties, 25 of those are from Linn County. Of the 94 staff, 23 live in Linn County. Eight of the 25 people served in Linn County live in a group home in La Cygne, said Platt.

Platt reported that the 2023 budget was staying the same amount of about $82,500 as the 2022 budget.

Chief Financial Officer Job Springer then presented the Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center (SEKMHC) 2023 budget of about $118,400 mistakenly pointing out that it had not changed.

Lamb pointed out that the 2022 Budget was nearly $116,800, about $1,600 lower. Springer apologized for his mistake.

Springer said that SEKMHC offers 24-hour-a-day crisis services, outpatient psychiatry, therapy, chemical abuse counseling, education, case management, peer support, psycho-social skill development groups and supportive employment and housing in Linn County.

Springer told the commissioners that SEKMHC had enhanced their services in the last couple of years offering more telehealth and more involvement in the schools.

Lamb gave the commissioners these tentative budgets:

  • Courthouse, $392,500, up $187 partly due to postage increases, death investigations and autopsies;

  • Contingency budget, $2 million, a decrease of $400,000 which was largely from the infrastructure budget;

  • Windfall budget, $1.5 million with a decrease of $1.5 million due to not having to pay money out for the construction project and the rental of office space;

  • Linn County Fair budget of $130,000, which increased $62,000. The fair board has the right to levy up to 0.5 mills but had been levying 0.25 mills and now wanted to change it to ).5 to make some improvements.

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