79 may face layoffs as county tries to cut costsBy Deb Gruver
The Wichita Eagle
Sedgwick County would eliminate 113 positions under County Manager William Buchanan’s recommended budget for next year, which he will present to commissioners Wednesday.
Buchanan will reveal his plan for eliminating a $9.3 million deficit at the commission’s meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Of the 113 positions he recommends cutting, 79 are filled. That means 79 county employees could face layoffs unless other jobs for which they would be qualified become open due to attrition.
Commissioner Dave Unruh said he hates to see layoffs but understands the county has to balance its budget.
“I’m very disappointed,” Unruh said. “The decision on this is one that is hurtful, but we cannot continue in the mode we’re in. It’s a hard decision. We are going to have to lose some positions.”
The county employs 2,856 people — 2,657 of whom are full time.
Buchanan already eliminated 30 open positions in June. And the county last year offered early retirement to staff. About 120 employees took it. Some were replaced, however, so the net reduction in staff was 106.
Buchanan reiterated Monday that the county will have to do “less with less” as it moves toward a zero deficit. Because the majority of assessed valuations for residential and commercial properties are flat or down, the county is bringing in less money through property taxes.
Buchanan also will make a recommendation about whether to keep the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch open. The county gets $126 per day per boy from the state, but the cost to operate the ranch is $204 per boy per day.
The ranch serves about 40 juvenile offenders ages 14 to 20. Buchanan has said the ranch produces good results but is expensive compared with the number of people it serves.
What he recommends doing with the ranch will be one of the major points of interest in the 2013 budget.
Commissioners will vote on the 2013 budget on Aug. 15.
Public hearings about the budget are scheduled for 9 a.m. July 25, Aug. 9 and Aug. 14 in the commission’s chambers on the third floor of the courthouse, 525 N. Main. Residents also may comment online after Wednesday at www.sedgwickcounty.org.Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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