Vol. 4, Issue 3                                     March 2019
Good News/ Bad News: Home prices are increasing
The County mailed out property tax appraisal information on Friday, March 1. If you think the Appraiser overvalued your property, you have until the end of this month to initiate an appeal. If your property is overvalued, your slice of the tax burden will be unfairly on your shoulders. Now is your chance to challenge the numbers. Appeals have already started and will continue two more months.

This year, 78 percent of residential property saw an increase. Another 11 percent actually decreased. The average change was about five percent either way. If you did not receive a notice, that most likely means your valuation did not change. Those changes are truly reflective of what is happening in the housing market.

Even though the County pays the Appraiser’s Office employees’ salaries and provides the space for them, they actually are agents of the Kansas Property Valuation Division which is an agency under the Kansas Department of Revenue. They use PVD tools and follow PVD processes. They are part of the tax process but they do not work for the County Commission.

The County Appraiser tries to ascertain “fair-market value.” By law, the office is allowed some wiggle room. If the office determines your home value within 10 percent of what it would actually sell for on the market in its current condition, then an appeal would not likely be successful. 

Many people have contacted me asking why their appraisal information increased so much this year. I live in Derby and my property valuation increased 4.6 percent. My valuation went up four percent last year and three percent the year before that. Even with the recent increases in my valuation, I am still certain my property would sell for more than the Appraiser says it is worth. So, in my case, even though I do not like the higher taxes, I cannot blame the Appraiser and I don’t have a good argument for an appeal.

Check out www.sedgwickcounty.org/appraiser to research property appraisal and sales information around your home. You can verify whether your property details are correct as well as see details of area homes. If you do appeal, having those tidbits of data is helpful. Also, have picture evidence of things not visible from the air or street. For example, if you have needed repairs or repair estimates, those are compelling.

The good news is the economy is finally trending upward!
Burn ban to be enforced in April
Sedgwick County Fire District 1 reminds residents that a burn ban imposed by the state of Kansas will be in effect in Sedgwick County during the month of April.

New open burn permits will not be issued during the month of April and no current permit holders will be allowed to conduct open burns after March 31, 2019. Open burns can resume after April 30, 2019.

The ban includes all open burning of any waste, including vegetation and wood waste, structures, or other material on any premises.

The following counties will be affected along with Sedgwick County: Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Cowley, Elk, Geary, Greenwood, Johnson, Lyon, Marion, Morris, Pottawatomie, Riley, Wabaunsee and Wyandotte.

Exceptions to the open burn ban include pasture, crop, range and wildlife or watershed management. The allowed burning operations will still require a valid permit from Sedgwick County Fire District 1. Burn permits may be requested online at www.sedgwickcounty.org or by calling 316-660-3473.

Always call 911 before you burn.  The Kansas Department of Health & Environment open burning regulations (K.A.R. 28-19-645 through K.A.R. 28-19-648) apply.

Questions regarding the burn ban, or fire safety in general, should be directed to the office of the Sedgwick County Fire Marshal at 316-660-3473.
Projects in District 5
Bridge Construction on Pawnee both east and west of 143rd Street East
  • Construction began October 22, 2018
  • 143rd Street West to remain open
  • Estimated completion in May
Crews continue to work on the Kellogg/ I-235 interchange rebuild. This first phase is scheduled to be completed this year.
Update on Kellogg/ 235 interchange
Project updates can be found at www.235kelloggcentral.com and include:

  • All ramps are open but temporary lane closures are possible for regular maintenance chores or to complete minor items from the construction punch list.
  • Work will resume on bridge painting as weather moderates but traffic should not be affected.
Furry receives national recognition
At the County Weed Directors Association of Kansas (CWDAK) annual meeting on March 6, Sedgwick County Noxious Weeds Division Director, Mark Furry, was the recipient of the group’s Public Relations Award. To earn the award, Director Furry organized and worked the noxious weed booth at the Wichita Farm Show, set up and worked the noxious weed booth at the 2018 Kansas State Fair and gave several talks throughout the year on noxious weeds.

Furry currently leads the CWDAK board, serving as President. He has previously served as both the Secretary Treasurer and the Vice President of the organization. 

CWDAK aims to improve the noxious weed program in Kansas, improve the status of county weed directors, provide a forum to discuss common problems facing weed directors, and a general support of agriculture as well as noxious weed impacts on the agriculture economics in Kansas.
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Month observed
Statistically, more than 9,000 residents in Sedgwick County have an intellectual or other developmental disability. Our community is becoming increasingly aware that these disabilities do not keep individuals from realizing their full potential at school, work, home, or as members of their communities. Click here to watch a video about the Sedgwick County Developmental Disability Organization.

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers encourage everyone to focus on the abilities of all people. The most effective way to change attitudes and beliefs about the abilities of individuals with developmental disabilities is through everyone’s work and active participation in community activities and the openness to learn and acknowledge each individual’s contribution.

The Board of County Commissioners encourages all citizens to support people with intellectual and developmental disability and their families in all aspects of community life.

Click here for more information about the Community Developmental Disability Organization (CDDO) and services in our community. 

Featured photo is of the Arc of Sedgwick County and CDDO Director Dee Nighswonger.
Commission to gather public input on wind and solar energy
Sedgwick County Commissioners held a public forum for residents to provide input on land use related to wind and solar energy systems in the county on Thursday, March 28.

Residents still have the option to leave comments related to wind and solar energy systems in an online forum. Comments will be accepted now through Friday, April 26 at www.sedgwickcounty.org .

During a public meeting on February 7, Commissioners voted to temporarily prohibit applications for wind and solar energy operations through a moratorium. This action will allow staff to conduct additional research and study for the development, consideration, and potential establishment of specific standards or regulations. The moratorium will temporarily prohibit the acceptance and processing of an application for a commercial wind or solar energy system until August 12, 2019. There are no current applications for such systems in Sedgwick County.
Promotions and key changes to Sedgwick County administration
County Manager Tom Stolz announced a restructuring of the County’s leadership team that includes key changes and promotions.
Assistant County Manager Tim Kaufman has been appointed Deputy County Manager. Kaufman’s oversight over the County’s health and human services organizations will remain the same but he will provide organizational oversight in Stolz’ absence.
Tania Cole has been promoted to Assistant County Manager. Cole will oversee central services, County facilities and maintenance, courthouse police, communications, and the government lobbyist, among other functions. A 14-year County employee, Cole most recently served as Director of Facilities.
County participates in St. Patrick's Day Parade
Commissioners, Sedgwick County EMS, and Sedgwick County Fire District 1 celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with the Annual St. Patrick’s Day parade through Historic Delano on Saturday, March 16. 
Get rid of unwanted tires - for free!
Mark your calendars for the next Waste Tire Collection event! Sedgwick County businesses and governments may dispose of waste tires from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, April 18. Residents will be able to drop off waste tires from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20. Tires will be collected at the Sedgwick County West Yard, 4701 S. West Street. 
As the top outdoor family attraction in the State, the mission of the Sedgwick County Zoo is to inspire discovery, appreciation, and respect for animals and nature. It is home to 3,000 animals and nearly 400 species. The Reed Family Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley exhibit is the third largest elephant habitat in the United States. 
Exploration Place, Kansas’ premier science center, inspires a deeper interest in science through creative and fun experiences for people of all ages. Through its permanent and travelling exhibits, education programs, Digital Dome Theater films and special events, visitors can enjoy learning about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  
The Kansas African American Museum endeavors to make the Kansas African American experience resonate with EVERY Kansan. Located in the venerable Calvary Baptist Church, visitors may expand their knowledge and understanding of the Kansas African American story. 
Residents and visitors can gain an understanding of our community and cultural heritage at the Wichita – Sedgwick County Historical Museum. By collecting, preserving, and interpreting materials which reflect the area’s heritage visitors can experience different facets that shaped the community we live in today.  
Contact  Commissioner Jim Howel l: 
525 N. Main, Ste 320, Wichita, KS 67203