Shawnee County Commission begins revising its 2018 budget

Shawnee County commissioners were told Thursday that the Willard Bridge on the county’s western edge will open Sept. 9. This photo from the county’s website shows construction of that bridge being carried out.

Next year will be a “tight year” budget-wise for Shawnee County, Commissioner Shelly Buhler said Thursday.


Commissioners have stated their intent to adopt a 2018 county budget that doesn’t raise the property tax mill levy, said county administrative services director Betty Greiner.

Commissioners Buhler, Bob Archer and Kevin Cook began making revisions Thursday to that budget, which they tentatively plan to finalize Aug. 21.

Commissioners used “starting budgets” put forth by county departments heads, elected officials and organizations seeking county department heads as their starting point for Thursday’s discussion. Those budgets tend to be lower than “requested budgets” put forth by those entities.

The commission on Thursday made several additions and cuts to its 2018 budget, leaving it in a manner that — if approved in its current form — would lower the property tax levy the county assesses next year by $0.611 mills, from 48.345 to 47.734. Such a decrease would amount to a $7.03 cut to the annual property taxes the county assesses to the owner of a $100,000 home.

Archer said commissioners planned to discuss and consider revisions to the budgets of the health and parks and recreation departments on Monday; law enforcement, the elections office and the public works department next Thursday; then make final adjustments Aug. 21.

Commissioners also voted 3-0 Thursday to express their intent to issue taxable health facilities revenue bonds totaling $90 million to finance improvements to St. Francis Health.

The bonds were sought by Topeka Health Systems, LLC, a joint venture between the University of Kansas Health System, a not-for-profit entity, and Nashville, Tenn.-based Ardent Health, a for-profit entity. THS is acquiring St. Francis Health, which will become a for-profit entity.

The bonds involve proposed improvements on 24 parcels of lands, including 14 that haven’t been on the tax rolls. The arrangement calls for the county to continue to receive property tax payments for the parcels that have been on the tax rolls, but not to receive payments for 10 years for the properties that haven’t been on those rolls, said county counselor Jim Crowl.

The bonds may be paid only from rents and revenues due from THS and any other lessees involved in the project.

Commissioners on Thursday also:

— Heard public works director Tom Vlach say the county plans on Sept. 9 to open the replacement Willard Bridge on S.W. Carlson Road, for which construction is nearing completion.

— Voted 3-0 to approve a change order for the county’s contract with Ameri-Crete to construct cart paths for the back nine holes at the county-owned Cypress Ridge Golf Course, 2533 S.W. Urish Road. The change calls for the county to pay the company $13,899 from its building maintenance fund to make additional cart path renovations to the course’s seventh, eighth and ninth holes.

— Voted 3-0 to solicit quotes for modifications to courtrooms in Shawnee County District Court division 2, 13, 14 and 15 to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Contact reporter Tim Hrenchir at (785) 295-1184 or @timhrenchir on Twitter.