County commission to hold open house

By Maura Wery

Commissioners on Thursday said they have scheduled an open house from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Ray’s Apple Market West to present information related to the half-cent sales tax that will be on the November general election ballot.

Commissioners indicated that the presentation will be identical to the one currently being offered to various civic and community groups. They particularly invited those not affiliated with such groups to attend.

Commissioner Dave Lewis said Mayor Loren Pepperd and assistant city manager Lauren Palmer will join him at the presentation. Lewis said the commission is hoping to schedule more of these public open houses because “not everyone is involved in a service group.”

Commissioners on Thursday officially approved putting the half-cent sales-tax measure on the November ballot.

Cuts to corrections department

The community corrections department will face a 10-percent budget reduction next July.

Community corrections director Shelly Williams told the Riley County Commission today that her office has been advised by state funding agencies to prepare for the reduction around fiscal year 2014, but Williams said she expects that to go into effect in July of 2013.

“It’s going to be hard to make cuts without changing the services,” Williams said. Williams said she is already doing more duties than other directors in the state and has put one position on hold already because of the impending reduction.

Both Williams and the commission are asking the same question: Can an agency whose services are needed and whose workload is not going down survive that sort of cut?

“I resent the fact that the state thinks we are efficient enough already,” Commissioner Karen McCulloh said. She and WIlliams expressed concern about both the effect on public safety and the liability of the departments if they have to cut personnel or services.

“The risk goes up when you can’t help offenders,” WIlliams said. “If they weren’t monitored and they went out into the community and did something heinous, the liability of the agency goes up.”

Chamber of Commerce position

Chamber of Commerce president Lyle Butler introduced commissioners to Trent Armbrust, the chamber’s new existing business manager. Butler explained that the Chamber is trying to turn toward helping more local business and commerce and that Armbrust is going to be personally talking to the owners and employees in that area.

Both Lewis and McCulloh had high praise for Armburst, with Lewis telling Butler that “This is the best decision the chamber has made since I have been on the commission.”

Butler reiterated that the Chamber approves and supports the sales tax campaign and said “it is easy to show how Riley County has spent that money on roads and bridges and how it has benefited the county.”


Lease up for law library

The Riley County Law Library lease is up and county counselor Clancy Holeman suggested a new four-month lease that on expiration would go month to month.

Holeman said that the lease would be a good fit because the library is still figuring out a new location.

The Commission agreed with Holeman’s recommendation and approved going for the four-month lease. McCulloh praised the idea of moving the library to the Manhattan Public Library because it would be an ideal location where those who needed the information could get it on a more regular basis.

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