Schrant Named 2019 Excellence in Public Service Award Recipient
Every year, someone from Sedgwick County, the City of Wichita, and USD 259 is named the recipient of the Excellence in Public Service Award. The award -- sponsored by the DeVore Foundation -- recognizes public service employees who demonstrate a strong work ethic, high performance, and a commitment to community. This year marks the 31st year the award has been given.
Daniel Schrant, P.E. was named the 2019 Excellence in Public Service Award recipient for Sedgwick County. Schrant serves as the Construction Engineer for Public Works and has been with Sedgwick County for six years. Throughout his tenure, Schrant has been involved in a variety of successful projects, including the removal of unused railroad tracks in Garden Plain, KS.
In 2018, Schrant was involved with a project to overlay the pavement on Main Street in Garden Plain. Schrant identified a railroad crossing that had not been utilized for several years. He met with city staff to discuss the project, and learned the City attempted to remove the tracks on two separate occasions, but was denied both times by the railroad. After learning this, Schrant initiated a conversation with the railroad about removing the tracks. The railroad agreed and he developed the plans, secured the permits, and obtained a signed contract with the railroad to allow track removal just three days prior to the start date of work. Three months later, the project was complete. Schrant later received an award from the County Manager for his initiative.
“Daniel is a rare individual who hits on all cylinders,” said Jim Weber, Public Works Deputy Director. “He is an extremely positive person who is passionate about the work we do to serve the public, demonstrates exceptional leadership skills, and is a talented professional engineer who can see the big picture for a project while breaking it down into its essential elements.”
In addition to his work with Public Works, Schrant is an active member in the community, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. In 2017, Schrant was involved in bringing the film, “Dream Big: Engineering Our World” to Wichita for one week only, in hopes of inspiring the next generation. Additionally, he partnered with Exploration Place, who showed the film in the digital dome theater during the Regional Science Fair and to all school groups during Engineers Week 2018.
His involvement with the community doesn’t stop there. While he was President of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Schrant toured the Advanced Learning Library while it was under construction where library staff shared their vision of their new facility. After learning that they wanted the library to be more than a collection of books, Schrant developed “Hands on Engineering,” a new kids program that would be offered at the library. He began working with the local engineering community for monthly child-friendly engineering demonstrations, such as engineered sandcastles, floodplains, concrete, truss bridges, ground water supply wells, and water treatment processes. The program has seen overwhelming success and continues to exceed expectations.
Weber adds, “He is committed to the betterment of our community through his work with professional societies, STEM education, charitable organizations, and faith based institutions. The good news is Daniel’s commitment means he’ll have a positive impact for decades to come.”
An active member of the Knights of Columbus since 2002, Schrant can be found regularly serving breakfast to raise funds for various youth activities. Additionally, his family was selected as the 2015 Family of the Year by his Knights of Columbus Council for their parish involvement. Schrant is a Cub Scout den leader, where he organizes monthly den meetings, and makes an effort to introduce engineering topics to his cub scouts through a STEM themed pack meeting. He volunteers as a basketball coach at the local YMCA, organizes the biannual adopt-a-highway event for ASCE, and serves as a judge at the local MATHCOUNTS competition held annually by the National Society of Professional Engineers.
Schrant has been married to his wife Vicki since 2008, and they have four children.
Congratulations, Daniel, on your well-deserved recognition!
Password Creation: Top Six Things You Should Consider
So, you’ve downloaded an app, and it’s time to create an account. The next steps include formulating a username and a hard to break, easy to remember password. While this task can seem daunting, generating a strong, creative password for your multiple accounts is extremely important.
Here are six things you should consider when creating your password:
- No personal information. Your password shouldn’t include information such as birthdates, addresses, phone numbers, names of family members, pets, friends, or fantasy characters. Information like this can be easy to access and some of the first words, letters, and numbers a hacker will try.
- No number patterns. You might be asking yourself, “What does that mean?” Essentially, it means your password shouldn’t include patterns like aaabbb, qwerty, zyxwvuts, or 123321.
- Use different passwords for each account or each website. We know, we know – it already seems impossible to remember the other 10 passwords you’ve created, but it’s important to make sure you create different passwords for each account or website (see number 6). If your password is the same on multiple sites, and someone gets access to one of them, it won't take long for them to find out that the password works in other places as well.
- Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) when available. MFA is a security system that requires more than one method of authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify the user's identity for a login or other transaction. This method confirms a user's claimed identity by utilizing something they know (password) and something they have (i.e.one-time passcode sent to your smartphone or provided via a token) or something they are. Combined, they allow you access to your important data, and add an additional layer of protection and security against one of the most common types of breach—compromised credentials.
- Use passphrases. Create passwords that are made up of multiple words. Passphrases are both easy to remember and type, yet meet the strength requirements. Some examples include: “It’s time for vacation!” or “Block-curious-sunny-leaves.”
- Use a password manager for managing multiple passwords. Using a password manager helps you remember and keep track of all of your passwords. KeePass is free and easy to setup. You can use them on the desktop and your cellphone, too. You remember a single password for entry into the password vault. Once inside, you can easily access the username & password for each of your accounts or websites.
Creating strong passwords both at home and at work protects not only yourself, but also your organization. For more information about passwords please visit https://www.sans.org/security-awareness-training/blog/passwords-good-bad-and-ugly.
Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office Awarded AAA Community Traffic Safety Award
The Sheriff’s Office has been awarded the AAA Community Traffic Safety Award for the fifth year. AAA Community Traffic Safety Awards honors police and sheriff departments around the state for their commitment to traffic safety practices and programs. The program is conducted in cooperation with the Kansas Department of Transportation, Law Enforcement Liaisons, The Kansas State Sheriff’s Association and the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police.
Sedgwick County breaks ground on new EMS Post
On Monday, June 4, Sedgwick County leaders broke ground on Emergency Medical Service Post 15, 3575 N. Webb Rd.
With an expected completion date of early next year, this 2,998 square foot, pre-engineered steel structure will be staffed 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. It will have double drive-thru bays and the ability to house two 24/7 crews and ambulances if needed in the future.
Upon completion, this $799,000 construction project will be the 16th EMS post in Sedgwick County.
In addition to Riverfest’s Safelite Autoglass Sundown Parade submission this year, Sedgwick County sponsored two care stations which provided basic first aid, and held a recognition event for several public safety employees who go above and beyond.
At the recognition event, County leaders honored Emergency Communications Dispatcher Tiffany Vo, EMS Lt. Allie Losey and Lt. Sharde Lovato, Firefighter Brant Arnold, Deputies Jeff Smith and Doug Robertson. These individuals have been recognized by agency leaders, professional organizations, and peers for their service.
Protect your pets from the summer heat
During these hot summer months it is important to keep your pets out of the heat. Some ways to keep them safe are by providing a constant source of fresh water, providing shade or shelter for them when outside, and never leaving them in a hot car. Even in shade, a car’s internal temperate can be up to 10 to 20 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. Remember to call 9-1-1 if you see an animal in a vehicle during hot weather.
Suicide prevention – know the signs
In recent years the amount of deaths by suicide in Sedgwick County has been increasing at an alarming rate. In 2016, there were 91 suicides in Sedgwick County. Educating yourself and others on the warning signs can play a crucial role in saving someone else’s life, or your own. If you begin to notice these signs from you or someone you know, take it seriously, talk openly about the issue, listen to their feelings, offer them hope that help is available, and do not leave him or her alone.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call our Community Crisis Center at 316-660-7500 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Both resources are free, confidential, and available 24/7.
To get Suicide Prevention training for your organization, business, or group please contact:
Sedgwick County Suicide Prevention Coalition Deidre Helm or 316-660-7535 or Tisha Darland or 316-660-7517.
Commissioners approve funding for community amenities
On June 13, Commissioners voted to approve one-time funding for the Kansas Aviation Museum and the Derby Historical Museum.
The Kansas Aviation Museum, located at 3350 George Washington Blvd, requested $50,000 for the restoration of a B-52 airplane (a 170 “D” model) built by the Boeing Company, which is on display, and for building maintenance.
The Derby Historical Museum requested $10,000 from Sedgwick County to replace 18 window openings. The museum is located at 208 N. Westview Dr. in Derby.
2019 budget development update
Commissioners and County leaders continue to work on the 2019 budget. Several workshops were held this month regarding the Capital Improvement Program (CIP), Sheriff’s Office programs and pay, and employee health benefits. The County Manager will present his 2019 Recommended Budget to Commissioners on Wednesday, July 18. There will be two public hearings available for members of the public to attend – July 25 at 9 a.m. and August 9 at 6 p.m. Additionally, there will be an opportunity for residents to comment on the budget online via a social media town hall and a forum on the County’s website.
Cardiac arrest survivors reunite with rescuers:
Sedgwick County EMS hosted an event celebrating survivors of sudden cardiac arrest on Monday, June 25. This event brought together 12 former patients who suffered sudden cardiac arrest and were successfully resuscitated by local first responders. Survivors and their families were reunited with the EMS paramedics, firefighters, and dispatchers who had a role in their survival.
July 4 safety tips
As we enter into the July 4 holiday, Sedgwick County encourages residents to enjoy a safe and festive holiday. Emergency Communications will staff a non-emergency line for non-emergency nuisances that do not pose a threat to life or property; examples include complaints pertaining to parties, excess noise, fireworks, etc. Residents may dial 316-290-1011 from Saturday, June 30 to Wednesday, July 4. The line will be active between 6 p.m. and 2:30 a.m.
Sedgwick County Fire District 1 created a brief video of firework safety instructions. Remember to inspect fireworks to insure they have not been damaged by moisture. An adult should supervise all firework activities and they should only be used outdoors. Do not drink alcohol while shooting fireworks. Residents should dispose of fireworks in a metal container, not a plastic trash can. Let them cool overnight or soak in water in a container away from your home and garage.
New App to Locate Foreclosed Properties
Sedgwick County Treasurer Linda Kizzire recently unveiled a new application that allows users to see which properties will be included in upcoming tax foreclosure auctions. This app is meant to be a companion to the foreclosure book which is printed and available for purchase from the Treasurer's Office. The app is free to use and updated daily. It is available on both computers and mobile devices. Property sales will be held Thursday, June 22 and Tuesday, August 8.
Remote Collection Results
April 1, 2017
Sedgwick County Household Hazardous Waste hosted a remote collection site for residents to safely dispose of material Saturday, April 1, in Valley Center. This free event collected 31,345 lbs. of hazardous waste!
Residents may dispose of paint, aerosols, batteries, used motor fluids, lawn and garden chemicals, household cleaners, and more at these events. More remote collection events can be expected as the year continues. Or, instead of waiting for the next event, residents may dispose of old chemicals and household hazardous waste free of charge at the Household Hazardous Waste facility at 801 Stillwell. The facility is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
County Promotes Financial Transparency
December 1, 2016
Sedgwick Count's Open Finance initiative includes two website applications “ Open Spending and Open Budget. Open Spending allows the public to search and review Sedgwick County government's revenues and expenditures for the current year (updated weekly) and previous five years. Users can identify revenues and expenditures by category, fund, functional area or vendor, and can view a summary of any single transaction. Open Budget allows the public to see how actual expenses and revenues compare to planned revenues and expenses. Open Budget also includes information on larger Capital Improvement projects.
Sedgwick County Public Works is Providing Free Sand Bags
Sedgwick County Public Works is providing free sand bags to residents in need of them due to recent flooding. Residents may fill the bags on their own at the Public Works Yard at 4701 S. West St. The Yard will be open until 4:30 p.m. Friday. For questions or to report damage about the flood call 211.
Commission Holds Special Meeting in District 3
Members of the public are invited to an evening meeting at the Cargill Learning Center at Sedgwick County Zoo on Tuesday, Sept. 12. There will be a meet and greet at 6 p.m. and the meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m. Citizens are invited to come and participate in the meeting with county commissioners. This meeting will be recorded and aired on KPTS during the regular commission meeting time on Wednesday, Sept. 13.
COMCARE COMMUNITY PARTNERS TO FUNDRAISE AND PROMOTE SERVICES
August 18, 2016
This week COMCARE of Sedgwick County announced a public “ private partnership called COMCARE Community Partners (CCP). The organization was created to support and promote the sustainability of COMCARE programs and expand programs that address the behavioral health needs in the community. It will fundraise for and promote COMCARE services. Board members will provide COMCARE with advice on operational efficiencies as well.
Jason Van Sickle will serve as the president of the board. Other board members include: Gordon Ramsey, Chief of Wichita Policy Department; Judge John "Joe" Kisner, District Court Judge; Marc Bennett, District Attorney for Sedgwick County; Jim Grocholski, CEO of Wesley Rehab Hospital; Jeff Van Sickle, Partner, GMLV Architects; and Dr. Matthew Macaluso, KU school of Medicine. In addition Marilyn Cook and Harold Casey (SACK) will be ad hoc Board members.
For more information and to donate to the new organization visit www.COMCAREpartners.org.
Commission Adopts 2017 Budget
August 10, 2016
After much discussion this morning, commissioners adopted a 2017 Sedgwick County Budget and a 2017 Fire District 1 Budget.
The 2017 operating budget for Sedgwick County totals $406,091,994. It will be supported with a property tax levy of $133,201,437 will require a mill levy of approximately 29.359 mills.
Among the many enhancements included in this budget are:
- The addition of 8 positions and equipment to improve response times and enhance service quality of the EMS system;
- The addition of 9 positions and software to upgrade the 911 emergency call system; and
- The addition of $1.5 million to previously allocated funds, in order to replace all voting equipment.
Sedgwick County's five-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) includes $185.5 million of funding for the Law Enforcement Training Center, the replacement of the I-235 and US-54 interchange as well as the replacement or renovation of 20 other bridges, three new EMS posts, expansion of the Regional Forensic Science Center, and numerous other enhancements to county infrastructure. The budget for the 2017 CIP is $64,935,564, of which $52.6-million is for road maintenance and capacity expansion, $6.3 million is for bridge renovation or replacement, $5.5 million is for facility enhancements, and $500,000 is for maintenance of the Big Ditch.
Commissioners reinstated a position for the Community Health Improvement Program (CHIP) which was eliminated in the 2016 Adopted Budget. This position is responsible for the coordination of actions community partners can take to ensure successful outcomes of the plan and overall community health.
The CIP was amended so that funding for the Cold Mix and Gravel Road Replacement Program was reallocated to the Preventative Maintenance on Selected Roads Program in 2017. A total of $1.5 million was reallocated.
The 2017 operating budget for Fire District 1 totals $18,064,749. This budget will be supported with a property tax levy of $15,744,982 which will require a mill levy of approximately 18.371 mills.
The 2017 Budget was created recognizing four goals established by the Board of County Commissioners:
- Fund the budget with no more property tax than can be provided with a tax rate of 29.359 mills.
- Reduce the amount of outstanding county debt, and fund future capital projects solely with cash and funding provided by other jurisdictions.
- Incur no deficits other than as needed to fund capital projects or to reduce special revenue fund balances to targeted levels.
- Incur no substantial reduction of services.
In addition to these goals, the County Manager set three objectives:
- Continue to focus attention and resources on tier 1 services that constitute the core activities of county government.
- Reduce governmental funding of services that can be provided by non-governmental organizations.
- Take care of county workers.
Commissioners Vote to Reopen Observatory
July 6, 2016
Today, Commissioners approved a two-year lease agreement with the Kansas Astronomical Observers (KAO), a local nonprofit, for the Lake Afton Public Observatory. Nearly 40 years ago, the City of Wichita, Wichita Public Schools, Wichita State University, and Sedgwick County entered into a venture to build a public observatory and to create a 501(c)(3) entity. This Observatory operated until August 22, 2015, when Wichita State University, the last remaining partner with Sedgwick County, ceased operations at the facility. Since that time, the KAO has pursued the reopening of the Observatory; the organization plans to reopen the Observatory by Labor Day weekend 2016. Commissioner Karl Peterjohn stated that he was "absolutely delighted that there's an effort to reopen this valuable facility in Sedgwick County. It's very important that we have this facility; you never know what's going to pop up in the night sky."
Sedgwick County Opens New Tag Office
June 6, 2016
Sedgwick County Treasurer Linda Kizzire hosted County Commissioners and several state officials including Secretary Robin Jennison (Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism) and Secretary Nick Jordan (Kansas Department of Revenue) Thursday morning at a ribbon cutting event for the new tag office at 2525 W. Douglas. This tag office will replace the one located at 200 W. Murdock St. The new office opened for business today at noon. The office's regular hours will be Monday “ Friday 8:00 a.m. “ 5:00 p.m.
View a video about the new tag office
Law Enforcement Training Center Partnership Briefing
May 25, 2016
The partner agencies for the new law enforcement training center came together for a press briefing at Wichita State University to share what this project means for each organization and the community. Sheriff Jeff Easter and Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay believe that this model will benefit all three organizations. Chairman Jim Howell added that this is a great win for our community, jointly training in a brand new state-of-the-art facility is the best model for our public safety officers. WSU President John Bardo ended the event by thanking law enforcement officers and sharing that this project will allow the community to honor people who are willing to give their lives to protect others. He continued and thanked the Wichita City Council and County Commission for their decision to move the joint law enforcement training center to WSU's Innovation Campus.
Commissioners Attend Law Enforcement Memorial and Fire District 1 Graduation
May 20, 2016
Today Commissioners attended the annual Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Ceremony commemorating the supreme sacrifice given by law enforcement officers in Sedgwick County to their community. The ceremony was held in the Wichita City Council Chambers where Chairman Howell read a proclamation and concluded in front of the memorial outdoors.
Commissioners also attended Sedgwick County Fire District 1 graduation. Congratulations to Eli Gould, Jordan Hanika, Joshua Smith, and William Schultz. Welcome to Sedgwick County.
Commissioners Approve Joint Training Options
May 17, 2016
View the Special En Banc Meeting held May 17, 2016
This morning the Governing Body of Fire District 1 approved an agreement with the City of Wichita allowing Fire District 1 formal training opportunities at the Wichita Regional Fire Training Center. Chairman Jim Howell stated that he "greatly appreciates the opportunity the City of Wichita offered in terms of fire training. It's good for the community and for fire fighters."
Sedgwick County Commissioners also approved a letter of intent with the City of Wichita to proceed with a joint law enforcement training center on Wichita State University's Innovation Campus. A formal vote on the agreement will take place in the future. This project will replace the aging joint law enforcement training center that is currently used by the Wichita Police Department and Sedgwick County Sheriff. "This solves a 17 year challenge for law enforcement training. It sets us up for the best long-term structural solution," said Chairman Howell. Wichita and Sedgwick County have been working on a replacement facility for the two entities for many years. The Chairman added, "In both cases, jointly training in state-of-the-art facilities with Wichita is the best model."
Commissioners Seek Public Safety Training Option
May 11, 2016
Today, Sedgwick County commissioners heard a recommendation from Bid Board to house the joint city/ county law enforcement training center on the Wichita State University campus; this proposal came from MWCB, LLC. The recommended proposal includes building a new, three-story building on the innovation campus and partnering with the university's criminal justice program. It has an estimated cost of $9.5 million.
Chairman Jim Howell proposed a joint training facility for fire service similar to city/ county law enforcement. He shared his concern with discrepancies in overall public safety training, adding that tax payer resources are not properly utilized and would like to see both fire and law enforcement training between Sedgwick County and City of Wichita.
Commissioners voted to hold an en banc meeting at the soonest practical date with the City of Wichita to discuss joint public safety training as a whole, not just the proposed law enforcement training center. Sedgwick County hopes to build on the solid relationship with the City of Wichita in regards to training law enforcement officers.
Commissioners agreed that they are fully committed to determining the best overall option for a 21st century joint law enforcement training solution for the community, law enforcement, and the taxpayer. This small delay should not be interpreted as a detractor from this commitment.
The request for proposals process began November 2015 and proposals were submitted early 2016. The date to select a proposal was extended to May 18, 2016.
Fire District 1 Collective Bargaining
May 11, 2016
Today, the Governing Body of Fire District 1 heard testimony from attorneys for the Fire District and for the International Association of Fire Fighters 2612.
Read the entire news release here.
Commissioners voted to receive and file the testimony and plan to revisit the topic in the future.
Departmental Budget Hearings
May 4, 2016
As part of the 2017 Sedgwick County budget process, commissioners will hear from county division heads and directors regarding their plans and suggestions for the coming year. Departmental hearings will take place between May 9 and 20. Click here to view the full schedule.
- View the May 9th hearing
- View the May 10th hearing
- View the May 12th hearing part 1
- View the May 12th hearing part 2
- View the May 16th hearing
- View the May 17th hearing part 1
- View the May 17th hearing part 2
The recommended 2017 budget will be presented to commissioners at the July 13 Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners meeting. Sedgwick County residents will have opportunities to participate in public hearings on July 27 and August 4. As well, an online public forum will be available after July 13.
The county's budget is scheduled to be presented for adoption August 10.
Election Office Holds Special Election
April 19, 2016
The Sedgwick County Election Office sent nearly 8,700 ballots to eligible voters in the USD 262 - Valley Center Public Schools Friday for the special election May 5.
These ballots must be returned to the Election Office (510 N. Main) by noon on May 5 and can either be mailed or personally delivered to the office. Per Kansas statute, any ballot (from an all-mail ballot election) that is hand delivered to the Election Office must be delivered by the voter.
CommissionH olds Special Meeting in District 5
April 15, 2016
Please join us for a Special Board of County Commission meeting to be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Derby Welcome Center, 611 N. Mulberry. Commissioner meet and greet beginning at 6 p.m., so arrive early and say hello to your county commissioner.
Commission Establishes School Speed Zone
April 6, 2016
Commissioners established a school zone limit of 40 miles per hour on 143rd Street East from 700 feet north of Pawnee to a point 2900 feet north of Pawnee in front of Christa McAuliffe Academy. The school zone limit will be effective only on days school is in session and only during the times when students are en route to and from school.
The Sedgwick County Engineer will erect traffic control devices giving notice of the school zone speed limit. Once they are in place all law enforcement officers with jurisdiction in Sedgwick County will have authority to enforce the school zone speed limit. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated as we work to ensure the safety of our children.
Sedgwick County Saves $1.6 Million on EMS Post
March 29, 2016
Last Wednesday, Sedgwick County Commissioners voted to renovate an existing EMS post rather than build new. The original proposal for a new EMS Post was projected to cost over $2 million but by renovating a current county facility the costs were kept to just over $400,000. Commissioner Ranzau who recently toured the facility commented, "by doing this instead of building a new facility and borrowing money we're going to save the tax payers about $1.6million."
The post in Park City is a combined use facility for EMS, Emergency Management vehicles and storage, and Sheriff's Office large vehicles. The facility has been in partial use since Fire District 1's departure from the facility, placing maintenance on hold until the recent decision to renovate. Click here to watch the video.
Co mmissioners Set Target Mill Levy and Revises Debt Policy
March 23, 2016
Today commissioners voted (5-0) to set a target property tax rate (commonly known as a mill levy) of 29.359 mills for county budgets in 2017 - 2022. In 2023, the mill levy rate is expected to drop to 28.758 and remain in subsequent years. The certified tax rate for this year is 29.383 mills; it funds the 2016 budget.
According to Commissioner Ranzau, "This mill levy decrease is a result of many actions we have taken, including our lower debt ratio."
Commissioners also voted (3-2) to adopt a revised debt policy that will reduce the County's debt capacity and limit the issuance of future debt. This policy prohibits the use of debt to finance operations or maintenance activities and sets criteria under which debt is to be used for capital improvements or unusual equipment purchases. Chairman Jim Howell commented that Sedgwick County is "intentionally going into a more responsible direction" in regards to the debt issuance limit.
Previously, the policy allowed for a maximum of 20 percent of the budgeted expenditures. The revised policy changes the maximum capacity of debt service to nine percent of budgeted expenditures; in 2019 the maximum capacity will be eight percent and debt will not be issued if the total would exceed that percentage.
Over the past few years, Sedgwick County's debt has been about ten percent of budgeted expenditures. The County's current debt equals 9.67 percent of budgeted expenditures, more than the new maximum of debt. Therefore, the County will be unable to issue debt until the existing amount falls below the nine percent threshold; this is estimated to occur in 2017. Sedgwick County will be able to issue over $7 million in new debt in 2017 and remain under the new debt capacity.
Commissioner Richard Ranzau added, "By doing this, Sedgwick County is still able to accomplish core values and use the leftover to spend funds on other things."
The new policy is not expected to change the County's financial condition. Sedgwick County holds the same AAA credit rating from Moody's Investor Services, Fitch Ratings, and Standard and Poor's. This rating is a result of the County's financial management and intentionally conservative debt capacity policy.
Sedgwick County is consistently working to lessen the property tax burden on citizens, especially the poor or citizens on a fixed income. High property taxes are also harmful to economic growth in the community. By approving the two items this morning, Commissioners have proven that they are listening to their constituents and keeping government spending under control and being good stewards of taxpayer money.
Commissioners Consider Public-Private Partnership for COMCARE
March 21, 2016
Today commissioners heard a presentation from local business owner, Jason Van Sickle, regarding a proposed public-private partnership to form a 501(c)3 entity which will support COMCARE operations. The purpose of the nonprofit will be to expand public awareness of COMCARE's services, promote volunteerism, act as a fundraising arm to support COMCARE's services, and to utilize private sector expertise in the operation of the organization.
This proposed sister organization will encourage community involvement through awareness and volunteer opportunities, increase the organization's transparency, improve efficiency, and still maintain oversight by the Board of County Commissioners. COMCARE's programs and services are deeply intertwined with other county departments and community providers, specifically those in public safety. By moving to a public-private partnership, there is potential for COMCARE to eventually reduce its dependence on local tax dollars through fundraising efforts. There are also potential cost-savings for other county departments that work in conjunction with COMCARE. More details to come as this forward thinking initiative from the Board of County Commissioners as this nonprofit develops.
Sedgwick County Supports Voter Approval for Tax Increases
March 10, 2016
This week, Chairman Jim Howell and Commissioner Karl Peterjohn attended a state legislative hearing in favor of a bill that would empower voters to take a stand on property tax increases. The bill in question, SB316, and the amendment provided by Sedgwick County, would allow voters to vote during the budgetary cycle on whether or not the county can increase property taxes above the previous year's budget according to the Consumer Price Index. Sedgwick County and its Commissioners are willing to work with the legislature and other stakeholders to make this a doable option.
Read the Wichita Eagle article here.
2016 Appraised Values and the Appeal Process
March 9, 2016
Sedgwick County Appraiser Mike Borchard addressed the Board of County Commissioners this morning regarding 2016 Appraised Values and the Appeal Process. You can review his presentation here. "An increase in value does not necessarily result in an increase in taxes. The revenue needed for local services is set during budget hearings held in August. Increases or decreases in property values do not change the amount of tax dollars needed for local services," said Mike Borchard.
If property owners do not think their values reflect market value, they can fill out the back of the value notice and return it to the Sedgwick County Appraiser within 30 days of the date indicated on the front of the notice. Informal hearings begin March 23, 2016.
For further information click here.
Chairman Expresses Support to Neighboring Community
February 26, 2016
Chairman Jim Howell expressed the following: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the community of Hesston, especially the victims and their families. It is shocking and so heartbreaking when someone chooses such violence. I am especially proud of Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder who bravely stepped into harm's way to end the violence very quickly! He is a TRUE HERO! I am also very thankful to the many first-responders who rushed to the scene offering tremendous life-saving help. I am amazed when we see the incredible public safety resources in the region come together in a moment.
Sedgwick County Commissioners visited this exact manufacturing plant just 70 days ago. Excel Industries in Hesston is a huge facility with thousands of employees who produce several of the world's best commercial mowers. This is a great company with the best employees."
Memorandum of Agreement with Kansas Department of Wi ldlife, Parks, and Tourism
February 18, 2016
Many construction and maintenance activities performed by Public Works crews and contractors require various environmental permits before they can be undertaken. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) is a state agency that must review and approve many county projects for potential impacts to threatened and endangered species in the state.
Over the past year, Chairman Jim Howell and Commissioner Richard Ranzau worked with Public Works staff and the Secretary of KDWPT to discuss issues related to these requirements. This effort resulted in a fully executed Memorandum of Agreement between the two entities that will streamline project approvals and in many cases eliminate the need for project review and approval if a specified set of best practices can be followed; it will reduce the regulatory burden on citizens and on Sedgwick County. This agreement is the only unit of local government in Kansas that has been able to reach such an agreement with KDWPT. Watch a clip from the February 17 Commission meeting.
Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County Reaches Goal
February 10, 2016
Diana Schunn, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County stopped by the County Commission meeting this morning to share some good news. The Center has successfully raised the $7 million needed to pay for the renovations of their new location at 1121 S. Emporia.
The renovations to the old Lincoln Elementary School are expected to be completed early this summer. The facility will include 60 employees from eight agencies, including the Exploited and Missing Child Unit and the Kansas Department for Children and Families. The new building will be better suited to accommodate the needs of the children and their families who have to visit the Center.
Sedgwick County was the second largest donor to the capital campaign contributing $1 million in 2014. Sedgwick County also contributes $205,000 to the Child Advocacy Center annually.
Election Office to Host Open House and Public Demonstration
January 25, 2016
The Sedgwick County Election Office will be hosting an open house and public demonstration of proposed voting equipment by vendor finalists who submitted responses to the current Voting Equipment Request for Proposal. The new voting equipment being considered for purchase would be implemented for elections beginning in 2017. The public demonstration is come-and-go from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday, February 1st at the Sedgwick County Historic Courthouse, 510 N. Main, Suite 102.
"I'd like to encourage anyone in our community interested in the purchase of our future election equipment to attend," said Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman, "You'll have the opportunity to compare the options with our current equipment and speak with the vendors. We'll provide you with a form to collect your feedback for consideration in our final decision."
Commission Declares School Choice Week January 24 - 30, 2016
January 25, 2016
At the meeting of January 20, 2016, County Commissioners declared January 24 - 30, 2016 as School Choice Week. Students from the Urban Preparatory Academy were in attendance to accept the proclamation. Click the photo above to view a video from the Commission meeting.
Commission Staff Meeting Change
January 22, 2016
Commission staff meetings will now be held on Mondays at 8:30 a.m. in the Board of County Commission meeting room, 525 N. Main, 3rd floor. These informal workshops allow Commissioners the opportunity to exchange ideas and receive updates on projects from staff, with no formal action by the board.
Tag Office Renovation Underway
January 22, 2016
Renovation at the new Tag Office, 2525 W. Douglas, is underway! Sedgwick County Treasurer Linda Kizzire recently toured the facility as pre-demolition work was beginning. The tentative timeline is early April for building construction/renovations to be complete, with several weeks of final move-in and computer work to follow.
Greater Wichita Partnership
January 20, 2016
At the regular Commission meeting, the Board of County Commissioners approved a contract with the Greater Wichita Partnership for 2016, and authorized payment of $300,000. Sedgwick County and the City of Wichita each contribute $300,000 to the Greater Wichita Partnership, with the balance of the organization's $1.9 million budget funded with contributions from area businesses.
The Partnership is focused on expanding the community's commercial and industrial base, through aggressive business retention, expansion and recruitment activities. The goal is to make the nine-county region of South Central Kansas as a fierce competitor in the global environment.
"I would like the message to be clear that we are fully engaged, and we are demonstrating and exhibiting the desire to partner with the community and organizations that promote and market our community to the world," said Chairman Jim Howell.
Recognition of the 2015 Chairman and Selection of the 2016 Chairman and Chairman Pro Tem
January 13, 2016
The Board of County Commissioners recognized Commissioner Richard Ranzau for his year of leadership as the 2015 Chairman.
Fifth District Commissioner Jim Howell was selected to be the new Chairman. While Fourth District Commissioner Richard Ranzau was selected to be the new Chair Pro Tem. Both will serve in these roles through January 11, 2017
A reception was held following the meeting giving citizens and staff the opportunity to recognize and congratulate the newly selected chair.
2015 Chairman's Award Presented to Bishop Wade Moore, Jr.
January 13, 2016
Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Richard Ranzau presented the 2015 Chairman's Award to Bishop Wade Moore Jr., founder of the Urban Preparatory Academy. "I am pleased to present this award to an individual that I believe is making a significant difference for the youth of our community," said Chairman Ranzau.
Each year since 1988, the chairman of the Board of Sedgwick County selects one organization, project or person that has exhibited a high level of dedication to public service, or otherwise made strides to improving our community. Some past recipients of this award include: the Patriot Guard, Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office Community Policing Unit, and the Wichita Independent Business Association (WIBA).
Commissioners Hear Overview of Budget Process
January 12, 2016
The Commissioners received an overview of the 2017 budget calendar and process at the weekly Commission Staff meeting. The process will begin with a Commission workshop in February, where Commissioners will receive a financial forecast and have discussions about priorities for the future, to help the County continue to work towards its goals and mission "“allocating resources for basic and essential services, for the present and future well-being of our community. Key dates in the 2017 budget process include:
May 2-13 Budget Review workshops with Commission
July 13 Manager's Recommended Budget Presentation
August 10 2017 Budget Adoption
Tentative public hearing dates have been scheduled for Wednesday, July 27 at 9:00 .m. and Thursday, August 4 at 6:00 p.m. (both in the Commission Chambers). In addition, County Manager Mike Scholes discussed his Guiding Principles to staff to help guide budget development, as a means to look at options for service delivery by the private or non-profit sectors. Staff will continue to monitor state legislative discussions, including the tax lid issue, sales tax and any budget impacts on county services.
Commissioners Announce Death of Bill Meek, Sedgwick County Register of Deeds
January 10, 2016
The Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners is sad to report that Sedgwick County Register of Deeds Bill Meek died this morning, January 10. Meek was 71 years old.
Meek was appointed in April 1998 to fill a term, and first elected as Register of Deeds in November 2000. Prior to his election, Bill had worked at Sedgwick County in Code Enforcement. He had more than 25 years of service in Sedgwick County.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and fellow elected official," said Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Richard Ranzau. "Bill brought the highest professionalism to the Register of Deeds office, and implemented technology enhancements that resulted in greater efficiency and transparency during his terms of service. We will miss him greatly on our team."
In addition to his local elected position, Meek served as President of the state Register of Deeds Association. He also served as the Legislative Chair for the Association, often testifying on behalf of county Register of Deeds from all across the state. Meek is survived by his wife Judy.
"Bill loved being a part of the Sedgwick County organization and encouraged his employees to provide the highest customer service," said Tonya Buckingham, Deputy Register of Deeds. "He was well-respected by his employees, and his leadership, knowledge and experience will be missed by many, both in our county and across the state."
The replacement for the Sedgwick County Register of Deeds will be elected by the Sedgwick County Republican Party precinct committee men and women, at a meeting to be held within 21 days. After this process, the Governor has 10 days to make the election/appointment official.
Sedgwick County Hosts South Central Legi slative Delegation Dinner and Forum
January 6, 2016
Commissioners welcomed the South Central Legislative Delegation to the Sedgwick County Courthouse for a light dinner prior to their Public Forum. Chairman Ranzau presented Rep. Goico with a plaque of appreciation for his year of service as the South Central Delegation Chair.
Close to 200 people attended the public forum with 30 citizens addressing the delegation.
Sedgwick County Commissioners Share Facts about County-wide Sales Tax
January 4, 2016
In recent months, Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and Councilman Pete Meitzner have talked about changing the county-wide sales tax distribution formula so the city residents get their "fair share." They want Sedgwick County to hand over $17.8 million (of our $29.2 million share) in sales tax, to use in some unknown way. Over the last few months, we have been patient communicating with Wichita elected officials, to better understand their needs -- we still aren't sure. But, it's time to share more of the facts, rather than just hearing another funding scheme to replace the failed November 2014 Wichita sales tax effort. (Click here to read the full letter from Commissioner Dave Unruh and Commissioner Richard Ranzau published in the Wichita Eagle.)
Sedgwick County Commissioners Attend Community Crisis Center Summit
December 15, 2015
Sedgwick County Commissioners attended a Community Crisis Center Summit on December 15. Hosted by COMCARE the summit featured presenter Leon Evans of the Center for Health Care Services in San Antonio. Community Crisis Center planning partners came together to learn about Bexar County's innovative programming, review our community's progress in the development of the Community Crisis Center, and to dialogue about next steps in planning for the future of the Community Crisis Center.
Sedgwick County Commissioners Attend TRU Grand Opening
December 10, 2015
Sedgwick County Commissioners Karl Peterjohn and Jim Howell attended the grand opening of the new TRU Simulation + Training, Aviation Maintenance Training Academy on December 10. The facility is located on the Textron Aviation Mid-Continent Campus and offers both classroom instruction and training for maintaining aircraft.
Sedgwick County Commissioners Help Kick Off the 2015 Battle of the Badges
December 10, 2015
Commissioners Karl Peterjohn and Jim Howell helped show support of the law enforcement, fire and EMS agencies today to kick off the Red Cross "Battle of the Badges" blood drive event. To make an appointment to give blood during this year's event, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). And vote for your favorite public safety agency “ now through January 3.
Sedgwick County Receives 2015 Road and Bridge Show
December 9, 2015
At the December 9 Sedgwick County Commission meeting, David Spears (County Engineer) presented the 2015 Road and Bridge Show . In this photographic presentation, Spears shows the public works construction and improvement projects for the year. Spears indicated that approximately $17.7 million was budgeted for the projects, with actual costs around $14.5 million “ for $3.1 million under budget.
Commissioner Jim Howell said, "I am just extremely impressed. This slide show was not required, but you did this to help us understand the things you've done. You went the extra mile." Those roads looks safe, and I like them. They look like the high quality roads I'd like to see in our county. We have some of the very best county roads of anywhere you could go to compare."
Sedgwick County 2016 Adopted Budget
December 8, 2015
The 2016 Adopted Budget has been completed and is now available on our website. You can find it on the Budget page, in the Department of Finance. The document is available with links to specific sections for your convenience! In addition, if you want to see how your taxes are specifically used to support Sedgwick County services, visit the "My Local Taxes" application.
Commissioners Adopt 2016 Legislative Platform
December 7, 2015
At the December 2nd Commission Meeting, the Commission adopted the 2016 Legislative Platform . The Legislative Platform provides guiding statements on a variety of topics important to county government, including Taxes, Public Safety and Human Services. In addition to the platform statements, Sedgwick County Commissioners identified five key initiatives (in no priority order) to advance during the 2016 legislative session: Reducing the Cost and Regulatory Burden of Public Works Projects; Kansas Threatened and Endangered Species List; Unilateral Annexation; Appearance Bond Revocation Process; and, Juvenile Detention Centers. Sedgwick County will post updates on our Communications page during the legislative session about bills being tracked.
Commissioner Ranzau Addresses Eagle Editorial on Health
December 3, 2015
In the Dec. 2 Commission meeting, Chairman Richard Ranzau addressed a Wichita Eagle article on "Local Rise in rates of STDs as Worrisome" during the "Other" portion of the meeting (www.youtube.com/embed/biaj20twgWQ?rel=0). Chairman Ranzau expressed his frustration that the Eagle editorial connected Health program budget reductions in 2016 (that have not yet occurred) to data from an STD study for the period of 2009 to 2014.
He also provided information to correct the misinformation of previous news accounts regarding a recent WIC program agenda item: the changes to the WIC program were to the administrative costs, NOT reducing any benefits to WIC recipients . And, in fact there were ZERO reductions to any WIC benefits or the entire local program, as the amount spent on administrative costs is still increasing by approximately $100,000 (from $1.8 million to $1.9 million) “ while the assigned caseloads for administrative staff have decreased 38%. The Commission decision was to not spend more than is necessary, and Sedgwick County will actually spend less on administrative costs than we were authorized to spend.
"I think it's important for myself and the commission as a whole to try to get the truth out there and the facts out there for the general public who may find themselves being misled by what they are hearing in the media," said Chairman Ranzau.
Commission Approves Purchase of New Tag Office
December 3, 2015
Yesterday the Board of County Commissioners authorized the purchase of a property located at 2525 W. Douglas Ave. from Dome Properties, LLC. The property meets the county's specified needs including optimum square footage of 20,540, a location within a 3-mile radius of Central and Main streets, adequate parking space for customers and employees consisting of 139 parking stalls, single tenant building, and a customized renovation plan to meet the specific needs of the Tag Office.
The total cost of the project is $2.3 million which includes the purchase of 2525 W. Douglas ($1,645,000) and owner's items ($673,000) of signage, furniture, fixtures, equipment, movers, and networking. The purchase will be funded with a transfer of cash from the general fund. "I think this is a tremendous service for our community," said Commission Chairman Richard Ranzau.
Sedgwick County receives bids for Law Enforcement Training Center
November 25, 2015
On Tuesday, Nov. 24, Sedgwick County Purchasing opened bid responses for the Law Enforcement Training Center. The RFP for move-in ready building space for the joint Sedgwick County/Wichita Law Enforcement Training Center was issued on August 14. There were 13 responses to the RFP. An internal review committee will evaluate all responses and determine if bid responses are appropriate to meet the needs for the Center. It is anticipated this review process will continue into January 2016.
Speaking at Commission Meetings
November 23, 2015
At the Nov. 18 regular County Commission meeting, the Board approved changes to the Commission Meeting Agenda Policy, which includes opportunities for the public to speak at meetings:
Any member of the public may request to place an item on the agenda for consideration by the Board of County Commissioners through either of two procedures:
a. At the Chairman's discretion, a public agenda may be held at the beginning and/ or end of a Regular meeting. A member of the public may address the Board by signing up to speak on Wednesday mornings prior to the start of Regular meetings. Requests should include the requestor's name, address, phone number, and email address, if available, and the topic of their request.
b. The Chairman of the Board may grant permission to a member of the public audience to address the Board concerning any specific item listed on the agenda.
Comments from the public are generally limited to five (5) minutes. Time limits may be adjusted as necessary. Requests made by a member of the public under either (a) or (b) above shall be limited in frequency to no more than one presentation in every other Regular Wednesday meeting.
Special Presentations to the Board Members of the public wishing to address topics that are unusually detailed or complicated, thus requiring longer time for presentation, are urged to make a written request to the County Manager. Such request shall be submitted by the Monday nine days prior to the anticipated Board Meeting date.
For more information about the County Agenda Meeting Policy, click here.
Commission holds Informational Meeting on e-cigarettes/vaping
November 17, 2015
Commissioners held an informational meeting today on the topic of e-cigarettes and vaping to create greater understanding of the topic and how e-cigarettes/vaping might be incorporated into our current county smoking policy. Two presenters were allowed to share facts and perspectives on the topic: Dr. Kimber Richter, professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the University Of Kansas School Of Medicine; and, Mr. Sean Gore, Chairman of the Oklahoma Vapers Advocacy League, and a lobbyist/advocate for the vaping industry.
New County Manager Began Monday, November 9
Brigadier General Michael Scholes, USA begins work as Sedgwick County Manager on Monday, November 9. Scholes was appointed to the position by the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners at the September 2 commission meeting, following a national, executive search.
"We are extremely impressed with the executive leadership and diverse experience that General Scholes brings to Sedgwick County," said Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Richard Ranzau. "We believe that his skills and experience in strategic planning, financial management, problem-solving and crisis management will certainly be assets in leading our organization and community."
Scholes comes to Sedgwick County with 33 years of experience in the US Army, most recently serving as Chief of Staff for the Kosovo Forces, NATO. He holds the rank of Brigadier General, with numerous military awards and commendations. In his military experience, Scholes helped cities and communities overseas with rebuilding public infrastructure and providing municipal support services, with staff from 31 nations. He also helped lead Hurricane Katrina emergency relief operations and coordinated response efforts to assist with the Haiti Earthquake response. Scholes served as commander of the FEMA Region IV Homeland Response Force, with significant crisis planning and response expertise, and also has firefighter, EMT, and police experience.
Scholes has a Master's in Public Administration (Georgia College and State University), a Bachelor's in Business Administration (North Georgia College) and a Master's in National Security Policy (US Army War College). He is married with five children.
You can read more about Scholes's work history, specific relevant experiences and honors/awards.
Sedgwick County Declines Proposals for MABCD/MAPD space
November 5, 2015
On November 4, the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners took action to approve staff's recommendation to decline RFP responses for space needs for the Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department (MABCD) and the Metropolitan Area Planning Department (MAPD). On August 17, 2015 a Request for Proposal (RFP) was sent to 80 vendors and advertised on the Sedgwick County website for a move-in ready building for MABCD and MAPD. On September 29, 2015, county purchasing received 16 responses for this RFP. Of those 16, four were viable responses while the other 12 were a "no proposal" response. There was a thorough evaluation of the responses with County Commissioners as well as staff. Based on the needs outlined in the RFP and the responses received, it was staff's recommendation that all responses be declined. Staff will begin the process of a scaled-down renovation plan for the first three floors of the 271 W. 3rd building.
Commission Receives Third Quarter Financial Report
November 5, 2015
The Board of County Commissioners received a presentation of the Third Quarter Financial Report on Wednesday, November 4, during the regular Commission meeting. Deputy CFO Rick Durham presented the report, with highlights including:
- Sedgwick County is in sound financial condition. During the recent bond sale, financial rating agencies reaffirmed Sedgwick County's AAA ratings.
- The deficit projected for 2015 is less than originally forecasted, due to one-time revenues. This is primarily a result of the sale of the Furley land (adjacent to the NE Sedgwick County Park area).
- Durham said the economic indicator data from Wichita State University's Center for Economic Development and Business Research is showing basically flat growth for our community.
Leading Indicators Index
Center for Economic Development and Business Research, Wichita State University
Sedgwick County continues partnership with KDOT on Northwest Bypass
November 4, 2015
On November 4, Sedgwick County Commissioners approved a renewal of a partnership with Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) for acquisition of right of way for the proposed NW Bypass. This 5-year renewal will provide a KDOT match for local Sedgwick County dollars $1-to-$1. Sedgwick County approved $325,000 from the 2016 Public Works "road and bridge reserves" for this purpose. In the previous contract (2010-2015), KDOT matched local dollars on this project at a rate of $2-to-$1. Other local governments participating in the effort to acquire the NW Bypass (K-254) right-of-way include Goddard and Maize. To-date, nearly 1/3 of the right-of-way has been acquired ($13 million expenditures), with a total anticipated cost of $51 million for the entire right-of-way project.
Sedgwick County ADA Transition Plan
October 27, 2015
Sedgwick County has an ADA Transition Plan which includes nearly 1,000 individual items for ADA improvements to County facilities. These items range from lowering transaction counters, changing door hardware or restroom renovations. Currently, 75% of all projects have been completed, and Sedgwick County has approved funding of $247,016 for ADA projects for 2016. Click here for more about the Sedgwick County ADA Transition Plan.
Recently Purchased Mobile Grinder to Help with Future Storm Cleanup
October 22, 2015
Sedgwick County recently purchased a mobile Grinder to be used after storms that create large amounts of debris. This will allow Sedgwick County to quickly respond to storms and dispose of the debris. The Grinder is used for turning large pieces of wood into mulch, which is then made available to the public at no cost.
Groundbreaking for U.S. 54/I-235 Interchange
October 21, 2015
Sedgwick County Commissioners joined KDOT Secretary Mike King and City of Wichita Council members for a ground breaking ceremony for the U.S. 54/I-235 Interchange Red Project (phase 1 of the rebuilding project). Commissioner Peterjohn was a presenter at the ceremony and in his remarks, he stated "Sedgwick County is stepping up to be a partner with KDOT in Phase I, so we can leverage the support of the state dollars to get this massive project underway. Our $11.6 million investment is another demonstration of Sedgwick County's investment in infrastructure in the Wichita area." He also noted that Sedgwick County has helped with several U.S. 54 (Kellogg) interchange improvements in the past, including $10 million in 2002 for interchanges at Kellogg & Tyler and Kellogg & Maize. While these projects do not fall into Sedgwick County's road network responsibility, the County believes that these are significant economic drivers for our community "“ they make it easier for workers, businesses and visitors to travel through our community and reduce accidents and congestion.
Zoning Areas of Influence - a compromise solution
October 21, 2015
The Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners (BoCC) voted today to approve a compromise solution to the issue of Zoning Areas of Influence (ZAOI). The Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (MAPC) recommended the BoCC retain city review of zoning cases, with changes to the boundaries of the ZAOI and reduction of the BoCC voting requirement from unanimous (5 votes) to a supermajority (4 votes) when the city recommends denial of the zoning application. Representatives of some cities in Sedgwick County opposed any change to the process; other cities supported the MAPC recommendation and some cities did not take a position. The compromise proposal adopted by the BoCC today generally follows the MAPC recommendation by providing notice to a city when the zoning case is within the city's urban growth area as shown on the comprehensive plan adopted by the MAPC; but only requires a supermajority vote when first considered by the BoCC if the city has recommended denial; if the matter is returned to the MAPC for review, on return to the BoCC only a simple majority would be required to approve and override the city recommendation.
Commissioners discuss county-wide sales tax
Sept. 15, 2015
Ron Holt, Acting County Manager presented information to Commissioners during the Commission Staff meeting to address questions about the county-wide sales tax discussion that was prompted by two city of Wichita officials recently. Some of the points addressed include:
- Sedgwick County is following state law in the distribution of sales tax revenues (as approved by voters in 1985)
- The concept of a change to the distribution amount has only been proposed by two city officials; it is not clear that there is Wichita City Council consensus
- Sales tax revenues are NOT tracked to a zip code, household or taxpayer. All sales tax collected by all businesses in Sedgwick County is sent to the state and aggregated in a distribution (according to a state law formula) back to municipalities and the county
- The two city officials include only City of Wichita residents, other municipalities' residents and unincorporated area residents as "generating" sales tax revenue "“ when in fact, a significant share of the sales tax is paid by people who live OUTSIDE Sedgwick County who come to shop, dine, visit venues, or for conventions
"I think our County discussion is to help provide the other side of the story from what was presented by the two city officials," said Commissioner Jim Howell. "Their arguments have gotten some attention, and I think this helps to provide some balance and show how Sedgwick County provides a lot of county-wide services, like 911 and EMS, and many of those services are used heavily by the residents of the city of Wichita."
You can read more of the full discussion points on this topic.
County & City Partner on Wichita-Valley Center Flood Control
Sept. 4, 2015
The Board of County Commissioners approved an agreement with the City of Wichita to jointly fund and manage the Wichita-Sedgwick County Flood Control Program. This ensures the continued maintenance of the Wichita-Valley Center Flood Control Program in accordance with the standards established by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Operational costs, including inspections, maintenance and repairs, are shared jointly by the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County. Each entity will provide $1,091,129 to fund the Wichita-Sedgwick County Flood Control program in 2016.
"This has been a long-standing agreement that has been in place, and I'm talking decades, and going back half a century," said Commissioner Karl Peterjohn. "And I think it's very important that when you are talking about this amount of money, it is an item of significant importance in this community, especially when the rains do come. In past years, we've been in a drought situation, and storm water and storm drainage didn't get much attention. But, as we revert to a more normal weather pattern, I think this is very important that the importance of the asset that we have that protects this community from flooding and the city/county cooperation that have been ongoing for half a century get at least a little bit of recognition."
Sedgwick County Commission approves QLess system for Tag Office
Sept. 2, 2015
The Board of County Commissioners approved the purchase of the QLess electronic wait line management system, to provide greater customer service at the Tag Office. QLess allows tag office customers to hold a place in line that can be scheduled through computer, texting, phone or a kiosk in the Tag Office, so they don't have to wait at the Tag Office. The system will be available later this year.
"I'm very excited about this," said Commissioner Jim Howell. "I've been advocating for this since I came to Sedgwick County in January. It allows people to stand in line virtually, and get in line through texting or computer, and be provided an approximate time to show up. This is being used at driver's license offices around the state, and my experience with that has been very positive. This is going to be a tremendous improvement in our ability to provide customer service to our tag offices."
Commission Opposes Westar Energy Rate Hike
July 22, 2015
On July 22, the County Commission publicly opposed a $152 million electric rate hike proposed by Westar Energy. Read the Commission's resolution here.