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SPOTLIGHT
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Reno budget praised; treasurer is not

Published on -8/14/2014, 11:47 AM

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By Tim Schrag

The Hutchinson News

Though few people attended Wednesday night's Reno County public session on the 2015 budget, the five in attendance, including Commissioners Dan Deming and James Schlickau, seemed to agree on one thing: County Administrator Gary Meagher did an excellent job drafting the budget.

Two sore spots that came up during an open period were why money had to be budgeted for an accounting specialist to aid the county treasurer and why property taxes were so high.

Deming said he felt this was very telling of both Meagher's skills and Reno County Treasurer Jan Hull's lack thereof.

"I hope that position can disappear the next time we elect a treasurer," he said. "We're adding it because the treasurer can't do her job. Hopefully the next time around we'll elect a competent treasurer to do the job and we won't have to pay another $15,000 or $16,000 for an auditor. "

Aside from the criticism of the treasurer's office, Deming said the visible support from constituents at the session was encouraging as the county moves forward with budgetary proceedings.

Meagher led a discussion about the proposed budget which has a projected mill levy of 39.603, which is an increase of a single mill to create a special fund to help repair the 600 miles of paved roads the county currently oversees. The extra mill would add another $550,000.

The total proposed $57.5 million budget includes adding new positions, but will be accomplished, Meagher said, through trimming other departmental budgets and through growth in the value of property.

New positions include an accounting specialist/internal auditor joining the county administrator's staff, a clerk in the maintenance department, four new employees for the jail and contracting with the city's E-911 director to head Emergency Management for up to a year.

Additionally, the budget calls for a step increase in pay for all eligible county employees and a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment.

"It takes a lot of people to do this; the commission has been very good about providing guidance," Meagher said. "They really do listen to the people in making their decisions."

The commission will meet on Aug. 20 at 9 a.m. in the Reno County Commission chambers for a hearing to move forward with the proposed budget. Meagher said at that point the budget amount can only decrease without starting over. He added his office can be contacted in regard to questions about the budget or to view the proposed budget prior to this meeting. Detailed information about the budget is also available in the county clerk's office.

(c)2014 The Hutchinson News

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