Finney County commissioners heard additional budget requests for 2017 during their regular meeting Monday, though no decisions will be made until July.

The commission listened to presentations from the Finney County Extension Council, Finney County Public Library, the Finney County Historical Society, Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Finney County Fair Board, and Finney County Conservation District.

The Finney County Extension Council is requesting $206,250 from the county in 2017, an increase of nearly $24,000 after receiving $182,500 this year.

In 2010, Finney County provided $230,000 to the Extension Council, then dropped support to $210,000 in 2011, then funding dipped to $200,000 for the next three years.

As part of an across-the-board cut for outside agencies, money for Extension was reduced to $182,500 for 2015, the same amount received in 2016.

Currently, the overall Extension office budget is $289,500, and its 2017 proposed budget is $289,112.

The Extension Council also receives revenue from Kansas State University, but Extension Council Chairwoman Lora Norquest said the state called back 3.5 percent of its $51,398 in funding last year and has reduced 2017’s funding by an additional 3.5 percent, making the total for next year’s budget $47,862.

Norquest said the expenses differ for all three of the Extension Council’s program areas — agriculture, 4H and family and consumer sciences — and each provides different services to the community.

As a whole, she said, the Kansas State Research and Extension office is a statewide network of educators who share unbiased research-based information about subjects, such as agriculture, that are important to Finney County.

The agriculture program provides information that helps improve crops, produce and livestock; 4H provides programs aimed at youth development; and family and consumer sciences offers programs and resources related to life and families, Norquest said.

Finney County Extension has hired agricultural and 4H agents within the last 12 months, but Norquest said the family and consumer science agent position remains open. Some of the programs normally conducted by the Consumer Science agent are being handled by agriculture agent Katelyn Barthol, 4H Agent Tayla Cannella or by an Extension Council board member.

Commission Chairman Dave Jones and Commissioner Lon Pishny asked if any of the programs or services provided by Extension at its 501 S. Ninth St. office could be conducted at the Southwest Research and Extension Center, 4500 E. Mary St., to save on costs.

“Because it seems they have space the last time I was out there,” Pishny said.

Norquest said the Extension Council board could look into that.

The Finney County Public Library’s proposed budget for 2017 is a little more than $1.26 million. FCPL Director Stephanie Juarez requested $966,987 from the county for 2017, an additional $10,000 from this year.

Juarez said the increase would be used to give her staff members modest pay increases.

“As a library director, it is my belief that the staff has given extraordinary service to the citizens of Finney County,” Juarez said. “It’s my goal to make sure they are recognized for their efforts and their performance.”

Juarez said the increase also would help cover costs associated with the library’s summer reading program.

“The library summer reading program has proven to positively impact the children’s reading skill retention during the school break,” Juarez said, adding that participation in that program doubled last summer.

She said it also would help support the library’s inaugural year as a provider of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service program. The library will be providing free meals to youth 18 and younger for free on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Other presentations included:

• The Finney County Historical Society requested $210,000 for 2017, the same amount it received this year.

The FCHS received $206,400 in 2011 and 2012, $200,000 in 2013, $209,986 in 2014 and $200,000 in 2015.

• The Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau proposed a budget of $800,000 for 2016. The CVB doesn’t receive any county general fund dollars. It is funded entirely through the 6 percent transient guest tax charged to overnight hotel guests.

CVB Director Roxanne Morgan expects to exceed $750,000 in revenues from the transient guest tax budgeted this year.

Any excess revenue that exceeds $750,000 will be put into a special guest tax fund and either be used as cash carryover in the 2017 budget, or the CVB could republish its budget in 2016 if it needed access to the additional funds.

• The Finney County Fair Board requested $53,000 in 2017, which is the same amount it received in 2016.

• The Finney County Conservation District requested $34,000 in 2017, the same as it received in 2016.

The conservation district works with landowners and communities to provide educational, technical and financial assistance for soil and water conservation, supported with both state and local tax dollars.


©2016 The Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kan.)

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