Budget requests for the upcoming fiscal year dominated the Riley County Commission meeting Monday.
Commissioners heard appropriations requests from a dozen local agencies to carry those entities into 2022. Many of the agencies’ budget proposals remain largely unchanged from the current fiscal year.
- County EMS/Ambulance director David Adams presented a budget proposal of $3.42 million, up $102,000 because of changes to employee benefits’ packages. Adams also requested a non-personnel budget of $354,275, which is unchanged from fiscal year 2021.
- Riley County Health Department director Julie Gibbs requested a level funding amount for 2022 at $1.15 million. Gibbs also asked commissioners to use more than $352,000 in carryover funds to contribute to the remainder of her 2022 budget proposal. Gibbs said the health department saw a total revenue amount of $4.2 million for the current fiscal year, while expenses were at $4.5 million. She said most of the department’s revenue came from state grants.
- Riley County Museum director Cheryl Collins presented a budget proposal of $444,787 for 2022, an increase of $275 from the current year. Collins said the small increase accounts for higher costs of shipping and postage, as well as office supplies and a laptop for curatorial staff use.
- County Court administrator DaLanna Nichols offered a budget request of $179,330. This proposal features an increase of $11,155, which Nichols said is attributed to technology purchases and a raised cost for a subscription to a legal research service.
- Patrick Gormely, director of the Riley County Genealogical Society, requested commissioners set aside $3,500 to support partial payment of utilities for the Genealogical Society to continue operating from the historic Platt House. Gormely estimates the total expenditures for the Society for fiscal year 2022 to be about $14,100. Of that amount, $4,300 is expected to be spent on utilities at the Platt House.
- Debora Watkins, director of the T. Russel Reitz Regional Animal Shelter, brought commissioners a budget proposal of $60,000 — the same amount as the current fiscal year.
Watkins told the board that animal control staffers respond to reports of animal bites most often, along with animals running at-large and calls for welfare checks. Manhattan Parks and Recreation director Eddie Eastes said he found it “a little odd” that this was brought to the commission as a budget request, since he believes the shelter should have a service agreement with Riley County. This would allow the shelter to charge the county for its specific services.
“I really think this needs to turn into a service request,” Eastes said. “I’m going to review the contract we started several years ago, and I will push for county legal to review that.”
Eastes said the animal shelter is still operating without a clear understanding of the service being provided to Riley County. Commissioners agreed reviewing that service agreement was a good idea.
- County IT/GIS director Kevin Howser proposed an increase in the contractual services for his department from $516,332 to $684,045. Other aspects of his budget request remained the same or decreased from the current fiscal year. Howser said the boost in contractual services adds the costs of the department’s aerial survey flight conducted every other year. Total expenditures for 2022 amount to $1.72 million, which is increased over the current amount at $1.61 million.
- Director of the county noxious weed department Mike Boller requested a flat budget in all areas, except for an increase of $5,000 for hazardous waste disposal. He told the commission the number of lithium-ion batteries being disposed of locally has “raised dramatically” for 2021, because of increased use of household items during the pandemic. The total budget request for 2022 is $221,210 — an increase of 2.3% over the 2021 budget.
- Brenda Jordan, an attorney with the Riley County indigent defense panel, proposed a 2022 budget of $389,350, which is largely unchanged from the current fiscal year. Jordan said a separate request of $35,000 would bring the salaries of the attorneys on the panel up to levels consistent with neighboring counties. That bump in salaries would increase the attorneys’ monthly paycheck from $4,600 to $5,048, and she said it addresses a lack of salary increase of any kind since 2019.
- Executive director of Three Rivers Inc. Erica Christie requested $8,000 to cover travel expenses for her agency’s employees. Three Rivers provides life skills training and support for individuals with disabilities across Riley County. Christie said the projected revenue for the agency for 2022 is more than $655,000, while total expenses for 2022 are expected to be more than $669,000.
- Planning and special projects director Amanda Smeller presented a 2022 budget proposal of $609,187. This is an increase from 2021 funding levels of $592,829. Smeller said the proposal calls for a $700 boost for employee training and travel to attend educational conferences.
- County budget and finance officer Tami Robison wrapped up the budget proposals, with requests for 2022 coroner’s office, juvenile detention, war memorial and special alcohol budgets. Robison said the war memorial fund and special alcohol fund are budgeted to be fully spent to zero for 2022, but that does not necessarily mean it must be fully spent. The proposed budget for the coroner’s office remains the same at $107,000, while the juvenile detention also remains the same at $95,000.
Right now, the war memorial fund — which was established in the early 1990s with income from memorial bricks in the courtyard near the Riley County Courthouse — has $11,800 available. The special alcohol fund for 2022 is projected to have $4,863 available. The special alcohol fund is typically used for drug and alcohol awareness programs.
County commissioners will continue reviewing budget proposals at their next meeting Thursday. It starts at 8:30 a.m. in commission chambers. A livestream of the meeting is available on YouTube.