February 2021
Good News - County Finances Keep Cost of Services Low
This week, commissioners got their first official glimpse into the fiscal challenges ahead. Trust me, the next few years will be challenging but I have faith in the budget process. We will find a way to solve the shortfalls. Otherwise, we’d be about $55 million overspent by the end of 2026.

Alongside that bleak fiscal forecast came some encouraging information about our history. In virtually every fiscal measurement, Sedgwick County can say we are doing more with less. We have worked to become more efficient and more effective. The challenge will be how we sustain this high bar.

Here are a few benchmarks to chew on: The county’s debt per capita is currently $156 which is very low for a municipality our size. Our mill levy is actually 6.2% lower than it was 13 years ago. Over that same timeframe, the county population increased about 6.2% and personal income increased 32.7%, which is almost twice the rate of inflation. Since 2008, inflation added 22.4% to the cost of living, the overall assessed value of the county grew by 26.4%, and property tax revenues for County government increased 18.5%. That means the county chose to forgo 7.9% of the revenue that would have been captured had we just kept the old mill levy.

What do you get for your hard-earned property tax money? The County funds the courts, jail, Corrections, Sheriff’s Office, Election’s Office, county fire, 911, Emergency Management, COMCARE (behavioral/mental health), the Health Department, and so much more. We subsidize WSU, the Zoo, senior centers, and improvements like the Kellogg/I-235 interchange and the ongoing North Junction project. We have more than 600 miles of county roads and 600 bridges to maintain.

One of the most interesting benchmarks is called the ‘Price of Government’. Supposedly, the target PoG for County government should be about 1% of the community’s personal income. That means the community will spend (on average) 1 penny out of every dollar for the infrastructure and services the County provides. Back in 2009, the PoG for Sedgwick County was exactly 1%. Today, the PoG has dropped to 0.85% which is 17.6% lower than it was in 2009.

The good news is, despite what many critics think, when you really take a look at the numbers, we can conclude that Sedgwick County has done a pretty good job. Do agree? Let me what you think at Jim.Howell@sedgwick.gov.
Please join me from 7 to 9 a.m. next Friday, March 5 for Cuppa Jo with Jim. This informal event allows attendees to come and go as desired. Coffee is provided. We will be at 1636 E. Patriot Ave, Derby (Calvary Baptist Church Gymnasium, enter through the glass doors on the east side of the building).
The next District 5 Citizens Advisory Board meeting will be held at 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, April 1. Anyone from the public may attend if you are interested. Meetings are held at the Bread of Life building, 1301 E. Galena (enter under the middle awning).
COVID-19 Report for February 26, 2021 
Comparing case counts from Wednesday to today:
  • The United States of America case count increased from 28,283,467 to 28,453,199 (+ 0.60 percent).
  • Today, the State of Kansas case count increased less than one percent, from 292,837 to 293,663.
  • In Sedgwick County, case counts increased from 44,472 to 44,602 (+ 0.29 percent). 

The Sedgwick County Health Department offers no-cost, walk-in sampling at the K-State Research and Extension Center, 7001 W. 21st St. Walk-ins are welcome from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Monday through Friday. Follow the signs to the southern entrance facing 21st St.
 
The Health Department takes a nasal, oral, or saliva sample to send to a lab for COVID-19 PCR testing. Results are generally available within 18 to 36 hours. The results of the virus test show whether a person has a current infection. This is not an antibody test.
 
Visit www.sedgwickcounty.org/covid-19 to learn more about the County’s response to COVID-19. 
Sedgwick County’s Local Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns revised grade K-12 school quarantine guidance for local school districts to keep students safely for in-person classrooms. This modification was decided following conversations with local school district superintendents. View the revised guidelines here.
 
Now, if a student is a close contact during the in-person classroom school day, they may or may not have to stay in quarantine at home based on the nature of the close contact. Students who are high-risk close contacts must quarantine at home per KDHE and SCHD guidance and participate in remote learning. Students who are low-risk close contacts may continue to attend in-person classroom or participate with remote learning.
COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Moves, County to Follow Governor’s Directive
Sedgwick County’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic relocated to 223 S. Main (the former Wichita library building) effective Monday, February 22.
 
Residents with appointments have two locations to receive the vaccine Mondays through Saturdays.
 
  • 223 S. Main, Wichita | Former Wichita Library | Clinic for residents aged 70 and older and health care associated workers who are active and can stand for periods of time
  • 777 E. Waterman, Wichita | Wichita Transit Operations | Drive-thru clinic for health care associated workers and residents aged 70 and older who have mobility difficulties
 
Based on new directive from Governor Kelly, Sedgwick County will also make teachers and school staff a priority as additional earmarked vaccine is available to re-open all K-12 schools across the county and state, and we continue to vaccinate people in Phase 2 of the vaccine schedule.
 
Vaccine Questions:
Contact your medical provider prior to receiving the vaccine if you have questions about how the vaccine may interact with your medical condition and medications you take.
 
Please continue to direct general questions about the COVID-19 vaccine to (316) 660-1022; this line is not for scheduling appointments.
 
County Pledge:
As more vaccine is received, the Sedgwick County Health Department will vaccinate more people while following guidance from CDC, KDHE, and Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns. The vaccination schedule is designed to assure that all who want to be vaccinated will have that opportunity. The implementation of the vaccination schedule is dependent on the manufacturing and distribution schedule from vaccine providers. The County will not schedule more appointments than the vaccine available. Updated information is available at https://www.sedgwickcounty.org/covid-19/vaccine-information/.  
2022 Budget Development Begins
Discussion of the 2022 budget began this month as Commissioners and County leaders spent time discussing employee compensation, transportation capital improvements, target mill levy rate, debt policy, and other budgetary factors. 
EMS Academy Graduates 13
Congratulations are in order for the 13 new EMTs, AEMTs, and paramedics who graduated from the brand new Sedgwick County EMS Academy! 

This 6-week long training academy is required in addition to their certification. 

In the academy, they learn about the equipment including the stair chairs, cots, radios, and power load systems, the dispatch and navigational software and the patient care reporting software (how to documents calls). They become certified in emergency vehicle operations and spent time learning the streets of Wichita and Sedgwick County so they can get to calls quickly.

Three days of the academy included learning in the simulation lab by running and documenting calls in real time. They ended the academy by taking a comprehensive final and two to three weeks as a 3rd person rider where they were evaluated before being released to full duty. 

Contact Commissioner Jim Howell: 
316-660-9300
525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 67203