By Jon A. Brake
County Commissioners and cub reporters are always impressed with mill levies. Both crow from the rooftops when a budget is held to "last years rate." Doesn't mean a thing.
The only way to read a Budget is to look at the last line in the published document. Our Fleet Footed Daily reported Tuesday that the 2002 Budget was $18.9 million. That is not right. The figure that will appear in the Sunday Mercury should be around $26 million.
The $18.9 million figure that was reported was a Budget Development Worksheet given to the Commission by Corey Swisher, Budget and Finance Officer. Many of the Special Funds were not in that document.
The County Budget has not been below $20 million for years.
In 1997 the Commission approve a budget of $15,419,463 over the objection of the Manhattan Free Press. That Budget was amended in early 1997 when the County was notified by the State of Kansas that Riley County was spending money that had not been budgeted. The amended figure for '97 was $28,580,76.
The Budgets: 1998: $25,327,920; 1999: $28,001.469 and 2000: $26,344,791.
A look at the figures to the right brings up another interesting item. The Mercury reported that the Riley County Attorney was mad because he could not hire a new employee. If the figures given to the Free Press are correct Bill Kennedy's office will be getting about $100,000 more that last year. The 2001 figure is $667,086 and next year it will be $762,939.
An area where the Commissioners have let the citizens down is in the
Road & Bridge Department. The Budget has increased from $3.1 million
to $3.4 million. That figure will not repair the county roads and bridges.
People who read the County Minutes know the Commission receives reports
every week on the poor conditions or roads and bridges. And each week they
are told that the 1/2-cent Sales Tax Money will repair everything. We do
not have a 1/2-cent Sales Tax and just a word to the Commissioners: The
citizens will never approve a Sales Tax for roads.