Shawnee County In The Red With $900,000 Shortfall

TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- Spending too much and bringing in less than expected have Shawnee County finding itself in the red this year.

County commissioners said in Thursday morning's meeting the bottom line is that expenses need to be watched closely.

Commissioner Bob Archer said that although expenses are down this year, the county is $900,000 dollars in the hole, almost one percent of the total budget.

Part of the reason - the county took in $1.9 million less than expected in property taxes. Revenue is $1.5 million down than what was budgeted and county expenses are $600,000 below expectations.

"What we can do is try to control expenses from here to the end of the year," Archer said. "In many cases, revenue is out of our control unfortunately."

Audit financer Betty Greiner said the same. She also blamed higher seasonal expenses. Over $1 milion more dollars were spent this year compared to this time last year. A big driver of that is salary increases commission budgeted for.

"So much of the revenue side is uncertain when we set the budget, so that's where the biggest hurdle is," Greiner said.

Greiner said the county is down $2 million in ad valorem taxes, but the majority of the revenue from the ad valorem taxes has been received.

She said the highway tax is down $59,000 and up from budget $181,000. The motor vehicle tax is up $648,000 and up from budget $536,000.

Archer said the county has to tighten its belt and plan for the end of the year.

"That's what's critical, that we look at year-end reserves, that has a big effect on our credit rating and how we do business. County commission has to set the example in spending for all other departments in Shawnee County, and we're going to do that."

Archer said his concerns for the 2014 budget is employee health insurance going up, as well as the department's contributions to retirement funds raising ten percent.


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