Butch Schlyer sat 40 minutes the other day to get waited on at the Ellis County Treasurer’s office, and he says that wait could easily turn into an hour or longer if the county cuts services or lays people off.
Layoffs and cutting county services have been two of the options raised for the county to solve it’s dire budget situation, said Schlyer, who on Tuesday night unofficially beat out sitting Ellis County Commissioner Marcy McClelland for the first district in the Republican primary election.
A former Ellis County health administrator for 23 years, Schlyer faces two opponents in the Nov. 6 general election, Democrat Chris Rorabaugh and Independent John Walz. He says he’s better prepared for the hard decisions the next commissioner will have to make after taking office Jan. 1, 2019.
“Where I differ with each of these guys is I have experience,” Schlyer said. “I know what the pressures are for the county department heads. It’s something the other two candidates can’t match. I can sit down in the chair and go. I’m ready to handle it.”
Asked what he’ll do about the county’s budget problem due to the long-running practice of spending more than it takes in, Schlyer said that before answering he’d first want to visit with department heads and ask them what services can be cut or if layoffs are in order. Either way, he said, that reduces services.
“I don’t know if the taxpayers are willing to put up with that,” he said.
As county health administrator, Schlyer not only ran the Ellis County Health Department, but also managed disease surveillance of reportable diseases in the county as mandated by Kansas statutes. In that time he put together 23 budgets, worked with two different county administrators and numerous county commissioners, he said.
Department heads worked in a group setting at times, which made him aware of the challenges that other departments face, said Schlyer, adding “there’s not a lot of extra in the budgets.”
Budget decisions will have to be made in collaboration with the county’s two other commissioners, he said, noting that one thing’s for sure, “the revenue stream isn’t going to get much better.”
Schlyer beat out McClelland by a big margin of 635 votes for him and 282 for her. Watching the election results at home on Tuesday night, Schlyer said, he was really surprised and hadn’t expected such a gap.
“I do know Marcy and she’s a very nice lady with a lot of support,” he said.
In her comments Tuesday night, McClelland was critical that she’d seen only yard signs for Schlyer, and hadn’t seen him out campaigning.
“I didn’t see her either,” said Schlyer on Wednesday. “So maybe our paths just don’t cross.”
He said he’ll handle his general election campaign in much the same way — knocking on doors, posting yard signs and talking with people, with the possibility of adding some radio advertising.
“If someone has a forum and I’m invited,” he said, “I’ll do that.”