Vol. 1, Issue 5                                                                                     August 2016
EMS Too Important to Privatize
Sedgwick County has invested for decades to develop an excellent EMS system. If you have a medical emergency in Sedgwick County, you can have confidence in the robust system of first responder emergency care. Our system is second to none. As good as it is, next year’s budget plans to make several additional significant enhancements. For example, soon, Derby citizens will notice a new EMS station south of 47th street on Oliver near SCFD Station 36. 

Recently, Wichita city councilmembers discussed the possibility of terminating the EMS agreement between our two organizations to allow private companies the ability to provide non-emergent transport services within Wichita’s city limits. Non-emergent transports are used in non-life-threatening calls like taking someone from a nursing home to the hospital for routine tests.  Fortunately for Wichitans, the council did not have enough votes to terminate the agreement. Nevertheless, the council seems determined to terminate the agreement and will revisit that opportunity soon.  This is an important issue that may affect all of our EMS stakeholders.  

The Sedgwick County EMS system continues to be an efficient and effective use of government services throughout the county. Additionally, Wichita has never come to us with concerns about the service.  In Sedgwick County, we see the value and responsibility with all of our transports and have stringent guidelines in place to make sure that each transport receives quality care.  We look at the system as a whole, from the time a call is dispatched to our response to the training we do to stay up-to-date on medical practices. This work is to ensure that we are providing a quality level of service to our customers at a reasonable rate.  

Shifting the non-emergency transport service to the private sector may seem like a free-market idea but the time to have this discussion was 30 years ago.  Please understand, that if the non-emergent transports are shifted to the private sector now, it will have a significant impact on the balanced system of care currently in place.  We will be forced to decide between reducing services, shifting existing revenue within the budget, raising taxes, or raising ambulance fees.  This proposal is creating instability, and uncertainty for our existing system. 

Now is the time for the community to be educated on the potential detrimental impact to citizens should Wichita choose to terminate the EMS interlocal agreement in the future. 
ARC 95 Study to hold Public Meeting 

Public meetings for the Arkansas River Crossing – 95th Street South (ARC95) Study have been scheduled in Derby and Haysville. The transportation study is looking at the needs and feasibility of improving the 95th Street corridor in southern Sedgwick County.

In Derby, the meeting will be from 5 to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, August 16, at the Derby Public Library, 1600 E. Walnut Grove.

In Haysville, the meeting will be from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 18, at the Haysville Public Library, 210 S. Hays. Formal comments will be made at 5:15 p.m. at both meetings.

The goal here is to refine what those recommendations mean, in terms of impact and cost.  Much of the proposed infrastructure would be in District 2 so I would like to see if improvements in this part of the County could lead to increased economic growth and quality of life, like it has in other areas.

For more information, go to www.arc95study.com or follow the project on Twitter and Facebook. 

Zoo Funding Model may be the Answer
As a member of the Sedgwick County Zoo Board and an elected member of the Sedgwick County Commission, I am very proud of our world-class zoo. 

The highly-politicized and public debate over the county's desire to update the Sedgwick County Zoo operating agreement has been unfortunate and unnecessary. This dispute is hurting the zoo employees and citizens who are unintentional victims of the continued impasse. I want them to feel safe and secure that the zoo is an everlasting part of our community. I want to solve this quickly for them and regain the collaborative relationship enjoyed over a four-decade period between Sedgwick County and the Zoo Board. 

For a number of weeks, I have been developing a fresh idea that may really help the zoo while satisfying the concerns of the county.  Hopefully, this proposal will be pleasing to the Zoo Board, the Commissioners, and the public. The citizens demand resolution so I sincerely offer a solution that achieves rebuilding the partnership and bond to serve the citizens. 

Interestingly, I was surprised to discover that the county used to provide a constant mill levy calculation to determine the level of funding for the zoo. In 2000, the county moved away from this dedicated mill levy to our current model of funding whereby the funding level is decided by the discretion of the county commission.

If the county and the zoo would agree to return to the former funding model, the natural incentives that would result are good for the zoo, the county, and the community.  And whatever economic pressure the county could experience would not affect zoo funding decisions since the funding would be formulaic rather than discretionary. 

This basic change would create the funding certainty the zoo needs but it would also enhance the zoo’s autonomy, authority, and control.  The issues we have been at odds over would no longer be important because the county and the zoo would become better community-partners and our respective missions would become intertwined. 

If we return to the 2000 mill levy equivalent, the zoo would receive nearly $224,000 above the record level FY2017 proposed budget. The zoo would then enjoy economic-driven certainty from this point forward. I am hopeful the zoo will agree that using a dedicated mill levy to fund the zoo is a great funding arrangement that will provide certainty for our zoo while also encouraging the economy and the community to thrive.
Commission Adopts 2017 Budget

On Aug. 10, the Board of County Commissioners discussed and adopted a budget for 2017. 

The 2017 operating budget for Sedgwick County totals $406,091,994. It will be supported with a property tax levy of $133,201,437 will require a mill levy of approximately 29.359 mills.

Among the many enhancements included in this budget are:

  • The addition of 8 positions and equipment to improve response times and enhance service quality of the EMS system;
  • The addition of 9 positions and software to upgrade the 911 emergency call system; and
  • The addition of $1.5 million to previously allocated funds, in order to replace all voting equipment.

Sedgwick County’s five-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) includes $185.5 million of funding for the Law Enforcement Training Center, the replacement of the I-235 and US-54 interchange as well as the replacement or renovation of 20 other bridges, three new EMS posts, expansion of the Regional Forensic Science Center, and numerous other enhancements to county infrastructure. The budget for the 2017 CIP is $64,935,564, of which $52.6-million is for road maintenance and capacity expansion, $6.3 million is for bridge renovation or replacement, $5.5 million is for facility enhancements, and $500,000 is for maintenance of the Big Ditch.

Commissioners reinstated a position for the Community Health Improvement Program (CHIP) which was eliminated in the 2016 Adopted Budget. This position is responsible for the coordination of actions community partners can take to ensure successful outcomes of the plan and overall community health. 

The CIP was amended so that funding for the Cold Mix and Gravel Road Replacement Program was reallocated to the Preventative Maintenance on Selected Roads Program in 2017. A total of $1.5 million was reallocated. 

The 2017 operating budget for Fire District 1 totals $18,064,749. This budget will be supported with a property tax levy of $15,744,982 which will require a mill levy of approximately 18.371 mills.

Lake Afton Public Observatory to Reopen
Commissioners approved a two-year lease agreement with the Kansas Astronomical Observers (KAO), a local nonprofit, for the Lake Afton Public Observatory. Nearly 40 years ago, the City of Wichita, Wichita Public Schools, Wichita State University, and Sedgwick County entered into a venture to build a public observatory and to create a 501(c)(3) entity. This Observatory operated until August 22, 2015, when Wichita State University, the last remaining partner with Sedgwick County, ceased operations at the facility. Since that time, the KAO has pursued the reopening of the Observatory; the organization plans to reopen the Observatory by Labor Day weekend 2016. Commissioner Karl Peterjohn stated that he was “absolutely delighted that there’s an effort to reopen this valuable facility in Sedgwick County. It’s very important that we have this facility; you never know what’s going to pop up in the night sky.” Click the above logo for short video on the observatory. 
County Supports Youth Group Volunteers
More than 347 kids from around the nation were in Sedgwick County last month for the Catholic Diocese and Catholic Heart WorkCamp.  They assisted with 40 projects to assist people with the most need, such as low income, those with disabilities and the elderly in the Wichita area.  The Division on Aging helped determine candidates for the group and Household Hazardous Waste supplied 115 gallons of paint to help paint 18 houses in Derby, Valley Center, and Wichita.  This is the second year this event has taken place here; last year it drew nearly 200 kids. Click on the photo for a short video.  
Public Works Assists with Storm Debris
Sedgwick County Public Works opened the West Yard for three weeks for residents to drop off tree limbs and debris due to area storms.  The department then used an air curtain burner to get rid of material. The burner allows the debris to be burned with minimal smoke output.   Over the three week program, the department saw more than 2,700 loads of debris dropped off!
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County Manager Names Executive Team
In June, County Manager Mike Scholes unveiled a new organizational chart reflecting the organization redesign. It reduces his direct reports to four people, a deputy county manager, two assistant county managers and a county engineer. These four will serve as his executive team.
  • Deputy County Manager: Tom Golden
  • Assistant County Manager of Public Safety, Code Enforcement and Emergency Management:  Tom Stolz
  • Assistant County Manager of Public Services:  Tim Kaufman
  • County Engineer:  David Spears
The organization’s transition will be strategically phased in and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Invitation to Participate

As your commissioner, I hope you will consider attending one of the Sedgwick County Commission meetings. You may sign up here to receive the meeting agenda in an email prior to each meeting.   If you choose to attend a commission meeting, please know, we invite our visitors to take an active role in the meeting by speaking on any agenda item.  I want to share these opportunities with you to help us make the best decisions for Sedgwick County!  

Currently, we have meetings planned for Wednesday, Aug. 24 and Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 9 a.m. in the County Courthouse at 525 N. Main, third floor.  There will be a special evening meeting in District 3 on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cargill Learning Center at the Sedgwick County Zoo. 

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

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525 N. Main, Ste 343, Wichita, KS 67203