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County Commissioners Approve 2024 Budget at Commission Meeting, Adopt Water Conservation Plan for Rural Water District 101


HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Reno County Commissioners have approved a 2024 budget that will be revenue neutral, which means the total dollars raised from property taxes will not exceed what was raised for the 2023 budget. That budget, in addition to many reductions in what had originally been proposed, some substantial, included 289 thousand dollars in reductions to funding for outside agencies, over half of which was born by Horizons Mental Health Center and TECH.

Last month Commissioners agreed to restore funds cut from the allocation to the Reno County Conservation District through use of cash reserves. Horizons and TECH have dedicated levies in the county’s budget, and restore funding to them would, according to County Administrator Randy Partington, would require cuts to general fund line items as the total levy for the county was fixed when it approved publication of the budget.

Commissioners rejected seeking of bids anchor the facade of the Reno County Courthouse dome. This was to address future issues that may come about similar to what happened to the facade during a couple of earthquakes a few years ago.

GMLV Architecture developed plans for the project, which while one consultant said wasn’t an absolute necessity which the county’s insurance carrier concurred with but a local engineer recommended proceeding with it. The opinion of the insurance carrier was what carried the most weight with Commissioners.

A change was approved in allocation of health insurance premiums for county employees for the new plan year. Human Resources Director Helen Foster said employee funding will account for 16.62 percent of the health plan costs. There’s also an overall increase in premiums of two percent, which will cover a slight increase in administration fees with the third party administrator of the health plan. Employees did not see an increase for the current plan year, and their premiums were cut for the 2021-22 plan year when it changed how health insurance is handled.

An agreement with Growth Inc. an entity managed by the Hutchinson-Reno County Chamber of Commerce, related to ARPA funds was approved by Reno County Commissioners Wednesday. The county had earlier allotted 1,2 million dollars for development of an industrial park along K-96 south of South Hutchinson. These funds would be earmarked for site planning and acquisition along with engineering costs.

The changes, suggested by Commissioner John Whitesel, add provisions similar to what was included in a funding agreement with Interfaith Housing and Community Services that required reinvestment of any funds from sold property into future development, and that no funds be used for administrative or personnel costs.

Commissioners approved the annual resolution allowing the county’s audit to be done based on the standards set out in the Kansas Municipal Accounting and Reporting Guide rather than Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. A GAAP audit would include certain things not required under KMAAG (K-Mag) and would entail significantly higher costs.

A resolution was adopted allowing the county to proceed with purchase of land in the HABIT area for a project involving the sewer districts serving it and the Yoder area, and it adopted a water conservation plan for Rural Water District 101 in the Yoder area, which is a requirement in order to seek grants for future projects.

Acting as the board for Rural Fire District 3, voted to terminate an agreement with Nickerson EMS as of September 1st.. Under the 1987 agreement Nickerson EMS would, when available, respond in tandem with the fire district for first response medical aid.

Nickerson Mayor Peggy Ruebke in June proposed terminating the agreement based on the limited response it offers. Under that agreement the fire district made a per response payment to Nickerson EMS, the only fire district in Reno County that was charged for additional first response services.