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County divvies up cash for organizations





Ellis County commissioners addressed funding requests from subsidized organizations at Monday's special meeting for the 2014 budget.

Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund requested the decision by Monday, so he could finalize the budget.

"You've heard from all the groups," he said. "I need (your decision) right away."

Of the 13 organizations requesting funding, eight received what they asked for, four received reduced amounts of what had been asked for, and one group was kept at its 2013 funding level.

The following funding decisions were made:

*  High Plains Mental Health Center asked for and was given $260,638, an increase of $3,192 from 2013.

*  Hays Area Children's Center asked for $154,000, but will be funded at its 2013 level of $144,000.

* Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas asked for $256,305 and will receive $250,000. DSNWK received $244,100 in 2013.

* Senior Citizens, which was funded at $136,554 in 2013, will receive its request of $138,614.

* Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development asked for and received its 2013 amount of $87,500.

* Soil Conservation District asked for and received its 2013 amount of $75,125.

* Extension Council, which received $270,000 in 2013, asked for $285,000, but will receive $275,000.

* Ellis County Historical Society asked for and received its 2013 amount of $120,100.

* Ellis County Junior Free Fair asked for and received its 2013 amount of $4,000.

* Humane Society of the High Plains asked for and received its 2013 amount of $5,000.

* Ellis Alliance Association asked for and received its 2013 amount of $5,000.

* Access transportation asked for $94,241, an increase from its funding level in 2013 of $70,000. The bulk of that increase would go toward a new vehicle. Commissioners funded half of the increase, $12,120.50.

* Hays Arts Council, which received $3,500 in 2013, asked for $5,000 but will receive $4,250.

In Monday evening's regular meeting at the Ellis County Courthouse, commissioners approved the immediate hiring of a jailer, and for that position to be included in the 2014 budget.

Ellis County Sheriff Ed Harbin came before the commissioners to detail the need for a new jailer position.

"We always try to do with what we have," Harbin said. "You look at the scheme of things, we're way understaffed."

Harbin said overtime hours will be cut with the additional jailer position. Presently, he often has to pull a deputy off the road or reassign an investigator to the jail to fill in during busy periods.

The cost for a jailer for the remainder of 2013 would be approximately $20,000, with the money coming out of the contingency fund, if funds there are available. The estimated cost for the position in 2014 is $39,445.

Commissioners approved hiring a new jailer, 3-0.

Commissioners also approved a resolution banning sale and discharge of fireworks, sky lanterns and similar devices in rural Ellis County.

Chairman Dean Haselhorst has favored banning the sale and discharge of fireworks in rural areas so the commission won't have to address it every year.

"I've been here three years," Haselhorst said. "I've done it every year."

"And every year, you've said no at the end," Sund said.

At the same time, if conditions are favorable for fireworks in a certain year, the commission could allow them with another resolution.

Commissioner Barbara Wasinger favored addressing the fireworks issue each year.

"I don't like passing laws just for the sake of passing laws," she said. "As far as I'm concerned, we need less. Let people lead their lives. We should make the decision each year, make it early."

Wasinger, however, joined the other two commissioners in approving the resolution.

In other business:

* Commissioners authorized Sund to purchase 75 percent of the county's estimated natural gas needs for the 2013-14 heating season from Seminole Energy Services.

* Commissioners approved the 2012 audit.

*  Commissioners set a date for a final budget meeting. It will be at 1:30 p.m. July 23 at a site to be determined.