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Archive for Monday, July 25, 2011

Douglas County commissioners closer to approving budget

July 25, 2011

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Douglas County commissioners on Monday moved a step closer to approving the 2012 budget, which includes a 1 percent cost-of-living raise for county employees without raising property taxes.

The level budget does come at a cost to some area agencies. County commissioners tentatively agreed to deny supplemental funding to the Lawrence Humane Society as well as to the Lawrence Community Shelter, saying they think the city has the main responsibility for those agencies.

Commissioners also tentatively agreed to provide an additional $100,000 over the amount funded by the county last year to Health Care Access and Cottonwood Inc. as a way of filling holes left by decisions made at the state level.

“My goal is to maintain what we have today,” Commissioner Mike Gaughan said of the fund levels.

Potential beneficiaries of county funding in the current 2012 budget also include The Shelter, The Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging and Destination Management Inc., which funds area historical societies. Each has supplemental funds currently set aside in the county budget ranging from $10,000 to $46,000.

The 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment was made possible by cuts to a digital transition radio fund for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Commissioners chose to cut the funds because it was not yet clear how much the transition would cost. The law mandates that all radio transmissions be in digital format by 2018. Money saved from cutting the radio fund will cover the $177,702 the employee pay increase requires.

Commissioner Nancy Thellman said it may be difficult to hold the line on the mill in the 2013 budget, considering the economy and the cuts that have been made at the state level.

The final budget is scheduled to be approved during a 6:35 p.m. public hearing Aug. 10 at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Mass.

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