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Commission gets look at budget

By Jelani Yancey

County commissioners got a preliminary look at Riley County’s 2013 budget Thursday. However, Johnette Shepek, county budget and finance officer, made it clear there’s still much work to do it.

In the budget, Shepek planned roughly $27,393,219 in expenditures and $10,449,972 million in revenues for 2013. Considering those numbers, the amount of ad valorem taxes required to fund the budget is $16,943,248. That’s more than a $800,000 decrease from 2012. If the numbers stood as they are, the mill levy would fall from 34.783 to 32.160.

But taxpayers shouldn’t celebrate yet. Shepek noted that there are items that were not included in it. One major expense not included was Riley County Health Department, which is expected to have a budget of more than $600,000. Another expense would be cost-of-living increases for county employees. Shepek said she would plug those numbers in for the next budget review.

On the other hand, Commissioner Karen McCulloh said although all county departments have made their funding recommendations, the commissioners could choose not to fund them fully.

Shepek and commissioners also highlighted a bright spot in the budget. There is a significant decrease in the bond and interest fund from 2012 to 2013. The county’s total bill for the bond and interest fund in 2013 will be $883,394. The primary reason for the decrease is the elimination of debt service related to projects utilizing the countywide half-cent sales tax.

Shepek said about $2 million, including more than $700,000 related to a Kansas Department of Transportation loan for the Marlatt Avenue project, will be paid off in 2012.

“That’s a huge savings from 2012 for 2013,” Shepek said.

Commissioners and county staff noted that sales taxes and not property taxes went toward paying off those debts.

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