SheriffÃ¢ÂÂs deputies, equipment operators, treasurerÃ¢ÂÂs clerks and all other Douglas County employees will share in the financial pain brought on by the stateÃ¢ÂÂs latest budget cuts.
Monday morning, Douglas County commissioners said they would cut employeesÃ¢ÂÂ annual cost of living increases from 3 percent to 2 percent, effective Jan. 1.
The move, to be approved Wednesday night, would save the county about $125,000 next year and go toward filling an anticipated $1.8 million budget hole opened by the latest round of state budget cuts.
Officials had discussed eliminating the across-the-board pay raises for the countyÃ¢ÂÂs 380 employees, but commissioners quickly pulled that option off the table.
Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂre a work force-driven organization,Ã¢ÂÂ Commissioner Charles Jones said. Ã¢ÂÂWe have to attract good people and maintain a certain level of staff morale. This reduction is something we have to do, but weÃ¢ÂÂve got a long way to go.Ã¢ÂÂ
Commissioners are struggling to remove $1.8 million in spending from the countyÃ¢ÂÂs $39 million budget for next year. Commissioners started the process Monday morning during a work session with area legislators.
Commissioners started by deciding against joining a possible lawsuit being considered by the Kansas Association of Counties. The suit, as proposed and backed by at least 10 other county governments, would seek to recover $48 million in cuts to area governments ordered by Gov. Bill Graves.
Lawrence city commissioners last week agreed to support such legal action, but their county counterparts opted out.
Ã¢ÂÂI think we need to be perceived as a part of the solution and not as a part of the problem,Ã¢ÂÂ said Craig Weinaug, county administrator.
County commissioners then lobbied incumbent and incoming state legislators: Sen. Bob Lyon, R-Winchester; Sen.-elect Mark Buhler, R-Lawrence; Rep.-elect Tom Holland, D-Lawrence; and Rep. Roger Toelkes, D-Topeka.
All four said they would do what they could at the Statehouse.
Ã¢ÂÂI hope thereÃ¢ÂÂs a growing intent to do the business of the state and not do it on the backs of others,Ã¢ÂÂ said Buhler, a former county commissioner who will take Sen. Sandy PraegerÃ¢ÂÂs seat when sheÃ¢ÂÂs sworn in next month as insurance commissioner.
Top administrators or representatives from 11 county departments also attended the meeting.