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Archive for Monday, April 10, 1995

LEANER BUDGET A POPULAR IDEA

April 10, 1995

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The county budget won't grow if commissioners maintain their current posture.

Douglas County Commissioners tipped their hand this morning, giving taxpayers and county department heads an idea of how high the stakes may be when they consider cuts for the 1996 budget.

The discussion was prompted by Commissioner Jim Chappell's call for a 5 percent cut in next year's budget. By not providing an allowance for inflation, Chappell's goal would translate into a real reduction of about 8 percent.

Chappell also has said he would be willing to consider layoffs of county employees to achieve that goal.

Because about $20 million of the $23 million 1995 budget was derived from tax-supported revenue, his objective would mean cutting about $1.5 million in county expenditures.

County Administrator Craig Weinaug said action by this year's Kansas Legislature may change the budget equation.

``Most of what the Legislature has done in cutting taxes is to put taxes back on us,'' he said, noting reductions in motor vehicle taxes and other proposed changes.

``It looks like the sum total of what the Legislature has done will more than offset the increase in valuation,'' he said.

Today, Chappell conceded that his plan may be unworkable.

``There may be some things that happen to us revenuewise ... that mean we can't do it,'' he said.

Commission Louie McElhaney said he was skeptical that Chappell's goal could be achieved but said the exercise of considering a leaner budget could be productive.

``I don't know that there's any excess money in (the budget) but I do think this is an opportunity to look at it,'' McElhaney said.

``Whenever we have the valuation go up 8 percent, I want to see that reflected in the mill levy,'' he said. ``We still intend to run a tight ship.''

McElhaney said his goal for the 1996 budget was to hold it at $23 million.

Commissioner Mark Buhler said he wanted to look at staff recommendations and the steep cuts suggested by Chappell. He said the final numbers would probably fall somewhere in the middle.

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