County Budget Includes $3.4 M Increase; Small Mil Reduction

County Administrator Rita Deister provided Commissioners with a draft copy of the 2018 budget, including budgets for the rural fire districts.  After consulting with the auditor, the maximum tax levy under a State Legislature imposed tax lid is $22,707,109 while the proposed budget actually represents $21,541,604.  The mil levy would be reduced from 37.508 mils to 37.298.

The proposed 2018 budget authority for expenditures is $42,395,888.  The 2017 budget authority for expenditures is $38,911,591.  Expenditures for 2016 were $36,996,245.  The 2018 budget authority includes devoting one mil devoted to upgrading gravel roads.  The 2018 budget represents an 8.6% increase from 2017’s budget.

Early in budget preparation, Commissioners agreed with Deister’s recommendation to move expenses attributed to the operation of the Sheriff’s Office that are exempt from the tax lid out from under the lid.  As a result, a significant portion of the $3.4 million budget increase will go to the Sheriff’s Office to cover primarily contract inmate housing and inmate medical expenses.  In recent years, the County’s budget has not fully funded requests from the Sheriff’s Office, which then exceeded its budget authority before year’s end; in accordance with state laws, funds were removed from the County’s general fund to fully cover the Sheriff’s Office expenditures.  This year, the Commission set a goal of providing the Sheriff’s Office with a realistic budget.

Regarding the Rural Fire Districts, the 2018 budget authority for expenditures of $915,438 includes:

  • RFD #1: $145,000, up from $120,000 in 2017
  • RFD #2: $178,405; the same as in 2017
  • RFD #3: $140,000; the same as in 2017
  • RFD #4: $91,455, up from $86,403 in 2017
  • RFD #5: $172,154, up from $166,525 in 2017
  • RFD #6: $47,100, the same as in 2017
  • RFD #7: $93,915, up from $92,115 in 2017
  • Kipp Sewer operations: $32,778, up from $11,534 in 2017
  • Kip Sewer Bond Interest: $14,631, up from $13,713 in 2017

A draft “notice of budget hearing” shows that the Commission will conduct its hearing to approve the budgets on August 8, at 9:00 AM at the City-County Building Authority.  A formal notice will be published in the Salina Journal.

Revamping the Committee to Reduce the Jail Population

Saline County’s Committee for Reducing the Jail Population was formed in late 2015 and began meeting in early 2016.  Today, Commissioners expressed willingness to update the committee’s bylaws and increase its membership.

Chairman Monte Shadwick agreed with Community Corrections Director Annie Grevas’ plan to include at least one criminal defense attorney.  He spoke of the possibility of including four or five additional members to a committee originally authorized to include seven “voting” committee members.  Non-voting members include Grevas, a County Commission representative, and a representative from the Sheriff’s Office.

Currently members of the committee include Michelle Martin (representing Catholic Charities), Rick Beus (area employer), Ellen Mitchell (County Attorney), Todd Heitschmidt (Court Administrator), and Glenna Phillips (treatment specialist).  Then Jail Captain Brent Melander has been promoted to Undersheriff.  There have been two vacancies created by former offenders who have benefited from treatment; one of these vacancies has yet to be filled.

Shadwick said that three members of the committee—Mitchell, Heitschmidt, and Melander–have advocated for building a new jail and court complex.  This issue went before voters in 2014 and they defeated a proposed $43 million joint complex.  Shadwick said those wanting to build a new jail can form their own committee.

Grevas said this committee was “about jail reduction” . . . “and needs parties who really can impact the process”.  She noted that members of the public can’t make changes.  She also said this “county endeavor is not about making court processes” move more smoothly, but readily acknowledged that “it would be great if that happened” as a byproduct of this committee.

Grevas said “some consultants are being funded”; they may have subject expertise on jail operations and related matters.  The committee has had some success in smoothing “re-entry”, by helping bring additional coordination of treatment and social services to inmates as they are about to be released from jail.

Those interested in serving on the committee can go to the County’s website at and fill out an expression of interest form.  The Commission may also reach out directly to key individuals and ask them to serve.  The committee currently meets for 90 minutes at a time and may meet as frequently as monthly.  They usually met on the third Wednesday, at Noon.

Extension Space May Become Juvenile Court

K-State Extension occupies space in the City-County Building’s first floor.  They plan to vacate that space around October, as they move to the K-State Polytechnic campus.  Yesterday, Heitschmidt and Mitchell toured the space with Deister, who wrote Heitschmidt is drafting “plans for a juvenile courtroom and offices for juvenile staff as possible option for utilizing the space”.

In discussing floor plan efficiencies for the third floor, some commissioners wondered if boxes that are stored on the third floor could not be relocated to the building’s basement or be sent off-site.

Writing a Grant to Improve the Senior Center Building

Planning and Zoning Director David Neal has located a possible grant that would provide matching monies to upgrade the old County Courthouse, that is currently used by the Commission on Aging.  Deister has received preliminary estimates totaling $72,263 for upgrades to make the building more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  So far, upgrades to plumbing, a security system and repairs to a wall have been identified.

Shadwick encouraged commissioners “to look at the big picture”; further brainstorming included adding electric door openers, heating/cooling upgrades, and parking lot improvements to the grant request.  It is likely the County will have to provide a match to whatever funds would be received, if the grant effort is successful.  The County already budgets for some COA capital improvements.

In addition, the Commission:

  • Heard Neal provide a quarterly planning and zoning update; details can be found under today’s meeting agenda at
  • Signed a grant document of $2,500 to receive reimbursement for providing services for those suspected or diagnosed with tuberculosis.
  • Discussed using a standard contract.
  • Approved transfer for a 2003 Ford Explorer from Road and Bridge to IT.
  • Scheduled a study session for August 1 with Emergency Preparedness Director Hannah Stambaugh and Neal regarding the County’s firework policies.
  • Received a message that the COA’s 2013 audit is still being finalized.

An executive session, regarding attorney client privilege followed.  Commissioner Mike White was absent.

2018 county buget notice