Vol. 2, Issue 7                                                                                  July 2017
It's Time to Speak Up

To everything there is a season. Not only have the dog days of summer arrived but this is also the season that local governments have to pass their budgets.  Unlike the backyard dogs that get lazier when it’s sultry, your local elected officials get busier and busier.

Most governing bodies would agree that developing and passing the following year’s budget is one of the most important and difficult things elected officials must do. Unlike the federal government, local and state governments deal with real dollars.  Statutorily, we must pass a balanced budget that ensures the planned expenditures are less than the projected revenue. We also follow our policies that limit ourselves from taking on too much debt as well as ensuring we maintain healthy ending balances.  

Sedgwick County starts the budget process late in 2016.  It literally takes hundreds of people working together over the better part of a year to update and assemble the nearly 800 pages of detailed content that constitute the budget proposal. This year’s proposed budget is available for your inspection here: http://www.sedgwickcounty.org/finance/2018budget.asp.

These days, I am spending my time reading the budget book to consider changes that might align the budget more closely to what I believe are the best priorities. This is also the season for you to advocate for changes to the budget. The easiest way is simply email or call the commissioners. You will also have an opportunity to address commissioners in person at the final public budget hearing on Monday, 7/31 at 6:00 PM. The hearing will be in suite 320, at the Sedgwick County Courthouse 525 N Main, 67203.

A couple of my distinctive priorities include additional funding for the county’s senior centers and a greater emphasis on storm water mitigation. Senior centers have improved their performance data making them qualified for an additional $73,000. It is disappointing that the promised funding is once again absent in the base budget proposal. Perhaps this can be amended. By my urging, the base budget does includes more funding for stream maintenance staff and equipment. Altogether, the county has identified about $700,000 in new money that will help clear and clean waterways to reduce the risk of flooding.  Although that is a step in the right direction, it is not enough.  Perhaps this too can be amended.

Without your advocacy, making changes to the budget becomes more difficult.  The season for you to speak up is now. 

Manager Presents Targeted Budget
County Manager Mike Scholes presented the 2018 Recommended Budget to commissioners on Wednesday, July 12. The $425,233,884 recommended budget for Sedgwick County and Fire District 1 includes funding for:
  • Safe and secure communities - $194.186 million
  • Effective government organization - $131.594 million
  • Human services and cultural experiences - $93.217 million
  • Communications and engagement (to include commissioners, county manager’s office, and elections) - $6.237 million

Members of the public may comment on the budget online now before the budget is adopted on August 2.  Join Sedgwick County for a social media town hall on the budget on Tuesday, July 25 at 2 p.m. The public is also welcome to attend and comment at the final budget hearing on Monday, July 31 at 6 p.m. on the third floor of the main courthouse at 525 N. Main. 
Rescued Eagle Released on Independence Day

Earlier this year a bald eagle was rescued at Lake Afton by Sedgwick County Sheriff officers and firefighters. It was rehabilitated by Eagle Valley Raptor Center. On Tuesday, July 4, the eagle was released into the wild. The Sheriff and Fire personnel who assisted with its initial rescue were also there to help release the bird.

County Hosts USS Wichita Crew
Six members of the USS Wichita crew spent several days in Wichita exploring the city and surrounding area.  Sedgwick County commissioners hosted a dinner at Sedgwick County Zoo for the crew and Wichita council members on Thursday, June 29. 

This will be the third ship named after the city. The Wichita is nearly 400 feet long and will be a faster ship, topping out at 40 knots. It will have a crew of 50 sailors. 
City Primary Elections for Three Districts

On Tuesday, August 1, registered voters in City of Wichita Council District 1, City of Haysville Council Ward 4, and City of Park City Council Ward 3 will be eligible to vote in the primary election. Additional information is available here.

Early voting will be available at the Sedgwick County Election Office (510 N. Main) during regular business hours through Friday, July 28 and through noon on Monday, July 31. Four additional locations will be open July 27 to 29.

On Election Day, voters are required to vote at their designated polling location. Locations can be found at https://gismaps.sedgwickcounty.org/election/pollplace/.  

Around the County
Commissioners attended a vote canvass to finalized the results of the Minneha Township election on Monday, July 17.
Contact Commissioner Jim Howell: 
525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 67203

Contact Public Information Officer:
Kate Flavin, 316-660-9370
525 N. Main, Ste 343, Wichita, KS 67203

Contact Corporate Communications Manager:
Keturah Austin, 316-660-9370
525 N. Main, Ste 343, Wichita, KS 67203