Riley County approves 2022 budget, opts out of vaccine incentive program for employees

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(From Left to Right) Riley County Commissioners Kathryn Focke, Greg McKinley, and John Ford

Riley County commissioners have approved the 2022 budget for publication, with a lower revenue neutral rate than previously approved.

Budget and Finance Officer Tami Robison presented the final summary to the commission Thursday morning.

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The proposed fiscal 2022 budget totals $49.7 million, roughly $8.2 million more than the 2021 budget. It includes more than $487,000 in salary increases for Riley County employees and nearly $225,000 in funding for the Riley County Police Department. The county is responsible for 20 percent of the total RCPD budget, with the City of Manhattan on the hook for the other 80 percent.

The published 2022 mill levy is 41.791 mills, which is lower than the 44.151 mills approved by commissioners in July. The mill levy in 2021 was 42.285 mills, which was held flat at the commission’s request. The assessed valuation is $677.5 million, a 1.2 percent increase from the 2021 assessed valuation of $669.4 million, a result of the county refinancing its general obligation bonds at a lower interest rate.

A public hearing will be held for both the budget and revenue neutral rate. The fire district will also have to hold a revenue neutral rate hearing. The district’s mill levy is set at 8.153, with a rate at 7.431.

Commission Chair John Ford says he doesn’t expect much push back from the public.

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The hearings are set for 10:45 a.m on. Sept. 20.

In other business Thursday, commissioners approved opting out of the county’s new vaccination incentive program for employees.

All three commissioners were vaccinated earlier this year. Commission Chair John Ford says he got his vaccine for piece of mind, not time off.

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The plan was to originally exclude the commissioners from the program, but Commissioner Kathryn Focke suggested they opt out instead. She says this is better than having a general exclusion.

Human Resources Manager Elizabeth Ward says this program is not required for employees.

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Ward also informed the commission that 85% of county employees have been vaccinated.

Commissioner Focke also brought up during Thursday’s meeting a concern regarding the playground at Keats Park.

Focke says the playground was supposed to be finished by the end of last month and is still not done. She spoke with some nearby residents about the issue.

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County Clerk Rich Vargo says the delays could be coming from recent bad weather and increased mowing from the parks department. Focke says it’s something the commission needs to look into.

Sam Hennigh and Brandon Peoples contributed to this story

 

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County government and school board reporter. 2016 Kansas State University graduate in Journalism and Mass Communications. Kansas born and raised.

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