The Finney County Commission considered more budget requests from outside agencies Monday, continuing the 2020 budget preparation process it began earlier this month.

The commission unanimously took requests from Southwest Developmental Services Inc., Compass Behavioral Health, the Finney County Economic Development Corp., the Finney County Historical Museum, the Finney County Conservation District and the Finney County Committee on Aging under advisement.

The commission will hear similar requests from county departments over the coming weeks before determining official budget allocations in July, said Finney County Administrator Randy Partington.

Earlier this month, commissioners heard requests from Russell Child Development Center, Western Kansas Child Advocacy Center, Spirit of the Plains Court Appointed Special Advocates, Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Finney County Public Library, Finney County Extension and Finney County Fair Board. All requests were taken under advisement.

Several agencies requested increases in funding, while others repeated amounts from previous years. Some groups’ budgets, and as a result, cash balances, have steadily decreased over past years, causing a need for increases now, Partington said. Commission chairman Bill Clifford said that without knowing department requests or evaluations, it is difficult to gauge how the agencies’ requests will impact the budget as a whole.

“This commission is pretty much to the person intent on holding line on the mill levy,” Clifford said.

The agencies that presented this week made the following requests:

• Southwest Developmental Services Inc., a regional nonprofit stationed in Garden City and Great Bend that assists individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, receives funding from the 18 Kansas counties it serves. This year meeting materials say that it requested $190,000 from Finney County, though representative Mark Hinde told commissioners the numbers have since been updated. The commission noted it would take the request under advisement once it reviews the updated numbers.

• City on a Hill asked for $25,000 in the substance abuse clinic’s first funding request to the county. Since the nonprofit currently only employs one counselor, the funds would ideally be used to hire another counselor in Garden City to meet community needs, said substance abuse counselor Miranda Unruh.

• Lisa Southern and Megan Garcia, of Compass Behavioral Health, requested $150,000, the same amount the mental health center has received for the past four years. Southern and Garcia pointed to the increasing need to address suicide, particularly among young people in Ford County, counseling partnerships with regional schools and on-call and walk-in crisis services that were well used by the community. The funds would help staff continue providing those services, as well as hold educational or information seminars about mental health.

• Lona DuVall, president and CEO of the FCEDC, requested $215,000, a $50,000 increase from last year. Despite constant cost-cutting measures, the FCEDC has long pulled from reserve funds to cover staffing expenses not covered by stakeholder payments, DuVall said. She addressed commissioners questions by reviewing the duties and value of each of the FCEDC’s four staff members. There were also other ways the organization can seek funding, including contracting services out to nearby counties, she said.

“One of our biggest problems ... is the fact that we never asked for this sooner,” said FCEDC board member Tom Walker, who accompanied DuVall. “Had we asked for excess funds for a number of years, we could have maintained probably an excess balance in the bank. But we kept our request to meet the bare minimum."

• Steve Quakenbush, executive director of the Finney County Historical Society requested $216,000, a $6,000 increase from last year’s allocation, for the local historical museum. The funds will be used for employee wages and benefits and potentially some of the museum’s utilities, he said.

“We do, I have to admit, find ourselves devoting more and more time to fundraising, which takes time away from things we might rather be doing in celebrating history and preserving artifacts,” Quakenbush said.

• Carmen Rhodes, district manager for the Finney County Conservation District, requested $30,000 for the district, which offers information and aid to help locals conserve soil, water and other natural resources. The district requested the same amount last year and has received $30,000 for the past two years. Rhodes said the money will be used for administrative expenses, conservation workshops and a storage unit.

• Shari Campbell, executive director of the Finney County Committee on Aging, requested $352,000 for the committee, the umbrella agency for the Finney County Senior Center, Retired Senior Volunteer Program and Finney County Transit. The committee received the same amount from the county in 2019, but the request itself is higher than last year’s, Campbell said. The committee needs additional funds to update the senior center and its front sidewalk, find a new agency to provide a popular footcare service, recruit new volunteers and fund programming, such as Meals on Wheels.

In other business:

• The commission unanimously approved a bid from Weathercraft Companies in Garden City for roof repair at the Juvenile Detention Center and the Finney County Public Works building for $9,600 and $3,700, respectively. The funds will be covered by each department's budget.

 

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.