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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Commission unanimous in desire to remain revenue neutral

Updated: 7 minutes ago

By Charlene Sims, info@linncountyjournal.com


MOUND CITY – After tentatively approving several budgets over the last several weeks, the Linn County Commissioners at their meeting on Monday, July 1, discussed whether to stay revenue neutral for the 2025 budget year.


Commissioner Jim Johnson brought up the subject. “How do you feel about staying revenue neutral, Danny? What’s your goal, Jason?” he asked.


“I would like to, I’m not sure if we can continue to,” said Commissioner Jason Hightower.


Commission Chair Danny McCullough asked County Clerk David Lamb if staying revenue neutral the last three years has started to impact the county negatively. 


“I don’t think it really has yet,” said Lamb. “I still don’t think you can sustain that long-term because costs continue to rise. 


“We did cut back a little bit on some reserves last year but some of that was reserves for specific items we didn’t need anymore, so I can’t really say that it has hurt us at this point. But I think it is just something to keep an open mind that at some point you’re not always going to be able to stay under that. And I won’t know where that point is until the budget is put together.”


“I feel that if it is available to us,” Johnson said. “I would like to do it, but I understand what you are saying, David. But, that there might come a time.  But if we’re still close I’d like to, myself. “


Hightower said he was good with that plan of action. He said he would like to stay revenue neutral if at all possible. But if the county wasn’t able to, he understood that as well.


Lamb said that the state had extended the time they were paying for postage, and the county would not have to pay to send out the letters this year.


McCullough asked Lamb if the county got penalized for going over revenue neutral.


“No, it’s just more steps to go through,” Lamb said. “You pass the resolution, you hold the hearing, and you know with doing the notice, we’ll do those things any way. It really doesn’t hurt us to do that.”


Budget presentation heard by the commissioners on Monday, July 1 were:


• Fire department budget was tentatively approved at $636,250 which is an increase of less than 1% percent or about $6,000. Fire Chief Randy Hegwald said this was because of an increase in the fire call pay for volunteers to $35 from $30 and their hourly wage from $10 hour to $11.67 an hour. Officers fire call pay would increase to $40 from $35 and their hourly wage from $11.67 to $13.33 per hour.


Commissioner Jim Johnson pointed out that the fire department employees did not get the salary increase the other employees did. 


Hegwald said he also raised the capital outlay line item $5,000 so over the next couple of years a fund could be built to replace some of the county’s extrication equipment.


• Planning and Zoning budget was tentatively approved at $100,000, which was up $8,500. Planning and Zoning Director Darin Wilson said the increases were for the 3%  cost of living allowance (COLA) that Lamb had asked be put in the budget and also and increase in contractural for the new Cloud permitting program. Commodities and capital outlay remained the same.


• No action was taken on the Linn County Park budget was until Public Works Director Shaun West came back with figures on how much an entry gate at the park would cost and more information was received from Evergy about the swimming area project. 


McCullough said he was not in favor of increasing the park budget until he had more information on gates and the swimming area.


Both Johnson and Hightower said they were good with looking at those numbers.


West had reported that there was an increase in payroll for the park due to the COLA and merit increases put in. He also raised contractural $7,000 because utility rates are going up. He said that the commodities and capital outlay line would stay the same. The budget requested is $423,932, up from $410,750.


• The commissioners tentatively approved the noxious weed budget of $198,745, up from $192,470. West said the increase in this budget also included the COLA and utility increases.


• No action was taken on the Elderly budget consisting of transportation, East Central Kansas Area Agency on Aging (ECKAAA) fees and meals, and personnel. West said that the budget was decreasing from $241,980 to $233,000 this year because the non-grant personnel costs were zeroed out for 2025. Other line items that did go up were contractural due to insurance and communications. Commodities and capital outlay will remain the same.


McCullough said that he would like the ECKAAA to come and present how the $13,500 membership fees and $31,500 for meals were spent. Hightower who is on that board explained that the $13,500 was spent for programs that assisted the elderly with casework and in signing up for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs. 


“Is there any way we can do this kind of like we did Tri-Ko to get them to come in here and give us number like what they do on a different region, numbers compared and what other counties contribute,” said McCullough. 


Hightower said he would get with ECKAAA and see if they could do that.


McCullough wanted to look into the costs of preparing the meals for the elderly at the county’s Justice Center also.


• The Custodial Department budget was tentatively approved for $165,500, up from $158,500. West said that the personnel had the COLA added but contractural, commodities and capital outlay remained the same.


• The Linn County Health Department budget was tentatively approved for  $446,017, down from the 2024 budget of $502,411. Health Department Director Amanda Snyder said that COLA and merit increases were also added into this budget. However, she said she had removed the overtime that had been included in the past several years’ budgets due to COVID.


The total budget was down because the department was receiving fewer grants to spend. Snyder said that the payroll line items was going to be $279,131; contractural was $44,158; utilities, $13,592; special medical director for COVID, $2,500; commodities, $53,636; capital outlay, $15,000; and the workforce development grant, $15,000.


   




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