TOPEKA (KSNT) – The 2022 budget for Shawnee County is expected to rise, but how to pay for it is still up in the air.
“Basically three choices, we can use up our reserves, we can try and find some spending cuts, or we can raise taxes,” said Aaron Mays, a Shawnee County Commissioner.
After preliminary discussions, the budget is expected to rise by $4.5 million to $120 million for fiscal year 2022.
Commission Chair Kevin Cook tried to pass that proposal at their meeting Monday morning, but the motion failed to receive a second.
Mays and Commissioner Bill Riphahn are focusing on finding other ways instead of just raising property taxes to make sure the county can afford its bills.
“Nobody’s really talked about cuts yet, maybe there are some areas where we can do some trimming there,” Riphahn said.
The county could also dip into its reserves which currently sit at $28 million.
“It’s kind of a one-year fix, but does it help soften the blow, rather than have a 3.9 mill [increase], maybe we can get it down to 2, just help people out just a little bit,” Riphahn said.
Commissioners debated on how much of the reserves to use. Cook raised concerns that if they take out too much, it could impact the county’s ability to get low-interest rates.
“I understand the feeling of you’ve got money, why don’t you just take it from there, but that’s a short-term fix that doesn’t really spell good financial sense for the county in the long run,” Cook said. “The reserves are an issue I would like to draw a bright line around, or build a fence around to protect because we will need it.”
Budget discussions will continue on Thursday, there they will talk about open job positions in the county and whether they could get rid of some of them to cut costs.