Kiowa County Commissioners passed a budget for 2008 at their August 6 meeting that calls for an increase in the mill levy from 41.752 to a level of 46.547 for the coming year.  Valuation in the county, meanwhile, rose from just over $77 million for this year, to nearly $80.4 million in the year ahead.


Kiowa County Commissioners passed a budget for 2008 at their August 6 meeting that calls for an increase in the mill levy from 41.752 to a level of 46.547 for the coming year.  Valuation in the county, meanwhile, rose from just over $77 million for this year, to nearly $80.4 million in the year ahead.
While commissioners Gene West and Don Richards voted to approve the ’08 budget, Earl Liggett voted no, apparently in protest over a 20 percent jump in outlays for the sheriff’s department, from $529,854 in ’07, to $636,875 for the year starting January 1.  The increase comes in a 28.7 rise in salaries for sheriff’s department personnel, though that jump was originally calculated on the reported need for hiring four additional deputies.
Recommendation for the four additional officers originally came earlier this summer from a former KBI agent filling in for Sheriff Galen Marble during his hospitalization.  Marble has since said his substitute made that recommendation without having had the authority to do so.  The call for the additional officers was passed on to Kendal Lothman of the Emergency Preparedness office, who in turn communicated the request to the commission.
Commissioners agreed August 6 that Marble can hire an additional two, rather than four officers.  The sheriff said he didn’t feel it necessary to add four deputies.  In addition to the pair of additional officers, Marble will also need to hire replacements for recently departed Undersheriff Tom Burns and jailer Mark Koehn.
Though Marble had recently lobbied the commission for members of his department to receive more than the six percent salary hike for county employees called for in the ’08 budget, Commissioner West told The Signal last Thursday it was his understanding personnel in Marble’s office would get the same raise of six percent in January, as will other county employees.
West said he remembers the $109, 021 increase in salaries for the sheriff’s department being based on the expected hiring of four, rather than two additional officers.  With Marble agreeing only two additional deputies will be needed, it appears not all of the $488,875 slated for sheriff’s department salaries will be spent.
Before the vote on the budget August 6, Liggett pointed to the line item covering budgeted expenditures for the sheriff’s department in ’08, commenting, “I just can’t go along with this.”
West replied by noting, “I believe over the next year to year-and-a-half the sheriff’s department will have an increase in responsibility with contractors being in here and tourists in town.  This is nowhere near the budget increase the sheriff asked for, but to my way of thinking, that’s enough.”
Road and Bridge Superintendent Doyle Conrad, meanwhile, thanked the commissioners for the six percent salary increase; noting it was “very generous” in light of “all that’s happened the last three months.”
Saying he wished the County could do even more, West commented, “Five years down the road Greensburg and Kiowa County are going to have a higher cost of living and we’ve got to protect our employees against that.  I wish we could’ve given a 10 to 12 percent raise, but that’s not possible right now.”
Saying he thought all department heads merit the raise, West reminded Conrad whether or not any given employee gets the six percent hike is up to him and other department chiefs.