New Sedgwick County commissioners to be sworn in

Jim Skelton joked Thursday that he will just be "Mr. Skelton" for the next two or so weeks.

Skelton's last day on the Wichita City Council was Wednesday, he said. So for about two weeks, he'll be a regular citizen, no longer a councilman.

On Jan. 9, he will be sworn in as a Sedgwick County commissioner.

Joining Skelton, a Republican who will represent District 5 in south Wichita and Derby and Mulvane, at the courthouse will be new commissioner Richard Ranzau. Ranzau, also a Republican, won the District 4 seat representing the northern part of the county, including Valley Center and Park City.

Longtime District 1 commissioner Dave Unruh, a Republican, also will be sworn in.

So will county treasurer Linda Kizzire, chosen by Sedgwick County Republicans to replace Ron Estes, who was elected state treasurer.

The county swearing-in ceremony and reception will be at 2 p.m. Jan. 9 in the jury assembly room on the first floor of the courthouse, 525 N. Main.

Skelton said he is focused on getting organized.

"I want to get my district advisory board set up," he said.

The Wichita City Council has district advisory boards that make recommendations to council members about issues important to neighborhoods.

Skelton has said he wants to do the same from the courthouse and invite representatives from other communities in the county to take part.

Ranzau said he has been meeting with key county leaders and department heads to learn more about the county, specifically about the budget process.

Controlling spending is one of Ranzau's biggest campaign promises. He is a fiscal conservative who has warned that he'll likely say "no" to some projects.

"Of course, everyone's given me tons of material to read," Ranzau said Thursday about his preparation to take office.

The first commission meeting for new board members will be Jan. 12.

Controlling spending is one major issue facing commissioners as the county is forced to dip into its budget reserves. County Manager William Buchanan set August 2012 as the deadline for the county to "bend the curve," or change the way it operates. That will mean cutting some services.

Spending is estimated to be about $13.7 million more than revenue coming in next year.

Jail overcrowding also will continue to be a key issue for commissioners, as well the future of the Kansas Pavilions, part of the former Kansas Coliseum.