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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Library, other entities request budget increases

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  • Because of low interest rates received from the Millar Ranch endowment, the Pratt Library Board realized as far back as 2011 that they would not be able to self-fund as much of their budget as they have done in the past.
    "At that time, cuts were made to operating hours, each staff member took an eight hour per week pay cut, and fees were raised on fines and copies," wrote library director Rochelle Westerhaus in a letter to Pratt County commissioners.
    "These cuts allowed us to come in under budget in 2011 by 28 percent and in 2012 by 27 percent. If the Library Board had not made these cuts, we would have had to take funds from the Millar Library Fund to cover expenses and at the rate money was being taken from the fund it would have been gone in three years."
    The increased funding from the city of Pratt and the promise of increased funding from the county in 2013 allowed the Board to extend hours beginning in September 2012 to: Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    "Patrons seem pleased with these new hours and library staff are now back on full time work schedules," noted Westerhaus.
    The Library Board is requesting an $8,500 increase in funding over last year's figures, according to Westerhaus. The 2014 budget shows an increase in IT Services of 40 percent over the present year.
    "We had been receiving free Internet service from Cox Communications since 2002, but on January 4, 2012, with no previous notification, they sent a serviceman to disconnect our Internet service because they were no longer funding free service to schools and public libraries," wrote Westerhaus. "We were given 30 days to make other arrangements and we then contracted with SCTelcom for broadband service and they were able to set things up so we had no lapse in service. So, broadband service was an unexpected expense we had to begin picking up last year."
    The Apollo ILS system (circulating operating system) purchased last summer with money from a large gift has an annual renewal fee of $2,700, according to Westerhaus.
    "We pay this fee yearly but we should not have to purchase a new ILS system because it has become outdated, as was the case with our last system," noted Westerhaus. "Also, we are contracting for additional tech support from SCTelcom to enable us to better serve the needs of our patrons."
    Programming has been added as a new line item this year to allow the staff to continue current programs as well as to add some new programs in the fall.
    The proposed budget for 2014 asks for $32,500 for materials, $148,700 for personnel, $19,400 for IT services, $65,500 in operational expenses. Additionally, a Capitol Improvement Fund transfer brings the total budget to $276,100. The city of Pratt is being asked for $156,500, Pratt County $116,500 and the Millar Fund $3,100 to fund the total budget request.
    Page 2 of 3 - Budget requests from other entities
    The Counseling Center
    Tracy Green, executive director of The Counseling Center, met with commissioners to submit her proposed budget. Green explained the multitude of services the center provided to clients in both Pratt and Barber counties.
    South Central Kansas Chemical Dependency Foundation, Inc. provides alcohol and drug evaluations and assessments.
    "DUI evaluations are provided at the lowest fee possible set by the state of Kansas," said Green. "We are available to perform these evaluations in our offices, and will also meet with individuals who are incarcerated at the Pratt law Enforcement Center. Evaluations and assessments are also provided at a reduced rate, or at no charge, to those with pending drug possession, distribution, or manufacturing charges, child in need of care cases, battery charges, or domestic violence cases — to name some of the most common.
    "Assessments are also received by those who have had difficulty completing their probation or parole due to substance use, or by any citizen who is interested in finding a solution to their problems with substances," said Green.
    The Counseling Center asked for $50,000 from the county for their 2014 budget — exactly the same as last year. Total funding for the $238,526.60 budget is proposed in the following manner: block grant funds $39,663.30, client fees $7,500, Pratt County $50,000, Barber County $10,000, city of Pratt $15,000, United Way $3,000, dues and gifts $200.00, evaluations and assessments $10,000, information classes $5,000, insurance $20,000, interest income $750, Medicaid $30,000, SB123 $7,000, and urine analysis $750.
    The proposed budget is $28,164.65 more than the $210,361.95 budget approved for the previous year. Most of the budget increase relates to personnel expenses ($26,741.48), with the remaining $1,423.17 increase scattered throughout the various line items proposed.
    Pratt County Sheriff
    The proposed $795,000 personnel budget allows for the hiring of three more officers, according to Sheriff Vernon Chinn.
    "Our jail numbers are running consistently above 20 and it is not safe for the inmates or staff to have one officer per shift," said Chinn. "I cannot continue to operate in this manner.
    "This will also allow us to hire two detention officers and a certified officer that will be dedicated to court duties and security," continued Chinn. "This would begin a three-year plan to have the staff, three more deputies, needed in the courthouse for full time security within four-years."
    The proposed budget reflects $15,000 for commodities, $22,000 for groceries, $85,000 for fuel, $5,000 for uniforms and accessories, $45,000 for contractual services, $30,000 for utilities, $10,000 for phone, $34,000 for building expense, $23,000 for vehicle expense, $17,000 for prisoner care, $2,000 for school expense, $12,000 for juvenile expense, $18,000 for computer expense (a 24 percent decrease), $70,000 for capital outlay vehicles, and $15,000 for capital outlay other.
    "The total proposed budget for 2014 is $1,198,000. This reflects a six percent increase over 2013," concluded Chinn. "The only area of increase is for salaries for the extra positions requested. This is the minimum budget I feel I can operate on for 2014.
    Page 3 of 3 - Pratt County Appraiser
    Pratt County Appraiser D.J. McMurry presented a two-part budget proposal to commissioners. His appraiser's budget requested $266,100 for the budget period. The request asked for $165,100 in personnel services, $21,500 in commodities, $51,500 in contractual expenses, $3,000 in capital outlay for a total of $241,100. Added to his budget is a GIS budget of $25,000 that included $20,000 in personnel services and $5,000 in capital outlay for a grand total of $266,100.
    McMurry's second budget proposal is a request for funding of the Pratt County Computer Administration Program in the amount of $180,000. This proposal included $16,000 for personnel services, $104,000 for computer commodities, and $6,000 for capital outlay.
    In other matters, commissioners:
    • were informed there were no violations found during inspections at the Pratt County landfill and Recycling Center.
    • adopted a resolution increasing fees for dumping at the landfill from a $5.00 minimum to $10.00.
    • approved a contract with Joseph A. Roth for $19,000 annually, to assist the Pratt County Appraiser. The contract runs through 2017 unless revoked by either party. environmental website.
    • were informed the Pratt County Sheriff's Department would be getting a powered parachute with a $40,000 grant from the Department of Justice. Maintenance of the parachute will be funded with registered offender funds.

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