The Cowley County Commission voted 2-0 Tuesday morning to approve the 2022 budget.
Chairman Alan Groom and board member Wayne Wilt were present; assistant chair Bob Voegele was absent from the meeting in the courthouse assembly room.
The total budget authority is $36,098,780 and the total mill levy is 48.943, up 1.859 mills from last year.
The commissioners had asked county administrator Lucas Goff for three things in the budget: Keep the mill levy as low as possible so that it is not raised more than 2 mills over the 2021 budget; keep county employees from having to take another hit when paying their insurance; keep county expenses as low as possible and all departments and related organizations maintain current employee levels. In order to meet those requests, four of the larger agencies had their appropriation requests cut by about 15 percent.
Those agencies are K-State Research and Extension; the Council on Aging, 4-County Mental Health; and the City-Cowley County Health Department.
The City-Cowley County Health Department asked for 330,000 and received $280,500.
“We were expecting it,” said director Tom Langer. “The commissioners said our budget was being reduced and it was.”
Langer said that what people do not understand is that when the local commission cuts the health department’s funding, the state and federal governments also cut their funding. The local budget shows “maintenance of effort,” Langer said, and the state and federal governments base their funding on that local appropriation.
“The county cuts us 15 percent, the state and the feds automatically cut us 15 percent,” Langer said. “We won’t lose just $49,500 from our budget next year; it will be more like $100,000 to $150,000.”
Loss of that much funding means at least one person will be laid off, he said. It will also mean that some services will either not be provided or will have fees attached to them.
“How do I find funding or change pricing?” Langer said. “We’ll need to figure out how to do it.”
The Extension Council asked for 180,000; they were granted $153,000. “We reached out to all the commissioners and explained the importance of extension to them,” said council president Beau Bailey. “They listened to us but they did not change their minds. We’ll have to change what we do, who we serve, how we operate.”
He hopes in the next couple of years their funding is restored.
“We were just getting ready to advertise a vacant position. We haven’t had a 4-H agent for a year. Kelsey Nordyke was the 4-H agent, but she’s now the ag agent. But she’s still handling 4-H as well.”
The Council on Aging had requested $177,081 and received $151,000. Council director Linda Chase said she could not make any statement until she met with her board.
Four-County Mental Health asked for $190,000 and received $161,500. Four-County director Greg Hennen was not available for comment Monday.