County commissioners voted 2-1 Monday, with Bob Boyd opposed, to add a full-time staff member to Riley County Treasurer Eileen King’s motor vehicle department.
King requested addition of the position, saying the department has been about one person short for the nearly three decades that she has been in the treasurer’s office. King said that normally, the shortage wasn’t an issue, but she said her staff has been stretched thin since a new computer system was introduced last year.
“I can tell the stress of my workers,” King said. “I’ve never seen them that way before.”
King said the long lines and finicky system are to blame, and sees adding a new person as “fixing a problem before it starts.”
Boyd questioned the idea of adding a person, citing financial constraints that another full-time employee could create for the county.
King said that, normally, she adds a temporary worker into her budget each year. For the remaining budget she would keep the temporary position and transfer the rest of the pay from the treasurers fund. For next year’s budget she would remove the temporary worker and just budget $25,000.
Neither commissioner Ron Wells nor Dave Lewis saw any issue with King’s rationale for the position, nor did they view it as an overriding monetary concern.
“I hear a lot about how people have to wait (for service at the treasurer’s office),” Lewis said.
At the same time, King issued a reminder to business owners that on April 1 the one-half percent sales tax that expired at year’s end would go back into effect. King said she especially wants to get the word out about the tax being added back on because it could cause more than just a few headaches for the businesses involved, it could also cost dollars.
“It could be a lot harder this time because it is easier to give a refund,” King said. “This time, if they forget to add it, it could come out of the merchant’s pocket.”
King said that the new sales tax rate will be 7.30 percent for businesses in the unincorporated portion of the city. For businesses in the Manhattan portion of the county, the rate will be 8.55 percent. The rate in other cities within the county will vary.
Riley County Clerk Rich Vargo told commissioners that today marks the beginning of advance voting in the city and school board elections. Voting can be done from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. for any registered Riley County voter through Friday. Saturday hours will be from 8 a.m. until noon. Vargo said advance polls will close at noon on April 1. Vargo also said that advance voting by mail could still be used as an option to vote in the April 2 election.
Ending general fund balance
The Riley County general fund is around $1 million higher this year than last year. Riley County finance officer Johnette Shepek presented the final un-audited general fund to the Commission Monday. Shepek said the beginning cash balance was $22.7 million with around $19.4 million worth of transfers and expenses. That left around $4.2 million, about $1.2 million higher than 2013’s ending balance.
“You really do want a strong beginning cash balance,” Shepek said. “It affects interest and bonds along with establishing the new budget as well.”
The funds left in the general fund will be rolled over into the 2014 budget.