The Riley County commissioners approved the proposed 2020 budget to go to publication, but may come back to it during the public hearing.

Budget and Finance Officer Tami Robison presented the Riley County budget summary for review. She says the Extension Council brought in an amendment to their budget earlier this week.  This decreased their appropriation request by $1,855 and the mill by .003 mills.

Robison says the costs for the radio infrastructure, hardware refresh reserve, and the 27th payroll make up the mill they are asking an increase for.  The total costs for these items is $1.5 million dollars, which is more than the mill increase of $1.4 million.

Chairman Ron Wells and Commissioner Marvin Rodriguez were fine with the budget going to publication as is, even though they would have liked to keep the mill as flat to last year’s as possible.  But they both agreed there isn’t much more they can do when it comes to making cuts.

“The fact that if we dip too far below the tax lid, then we are done for next year,” says Wells, “I’ve spoken with some realtors and I don’t think there will be much, if any, valuation increase next year.”

Wells also mentioned the fact that the county departments have already come back with reductions to their requests to get the county below the tax lid.

However, Commissioner John Ford wants to explore more options to make cuts to get the mill levy as flat as possible.

“It isn’t just about where we are at now, but the direction it’s moving and I’m hopeful and optimistic these things are going to change.  But as we sit, they’re not,” says Ford.

To him, the mill increase is larger from last year’s increase.  He says it will be harder for him in the future to comment on other entities spending too much money when he cannot defend this increase.

“There isn’t a lot of spots, but we’re going to have to think of some other things maybe not necessarily this year, but for 2021.  We have time to do that, but I still don’t feel comfortable moving forward with the increase.”

Rodriguez disagreed with Ford saying there really isn’t anywhere else to make cuts. They don’t want to have to only fund departments based on state statutes.

“We can do all that to lower the budget, but is it sound thinking.  If we start taking things from they have budgeted for in places we don’t have to fund technically, it can get very bad and is something I don’t want to do,” says Rodriguez.

Wells says he would be all for ways to lower the mill levy if Ford could tell him where to make the cuts that they agreed on, and where they would get the money to replace it.  Both he and Rodriguez told Ford he they can approve the publication and still look for those cuts until the public hearing.

The commissioners then approved the publication unanimously.

With the budget heading to publication, a public hearing is scheduled for July 29th at 10 a.m. in the commission chambers.

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