A week after seemingly putting a proposal to bed, the Leavenworth County Commission Thursday approved a change to its budget ― but not one that would effect the bottom line.

A week after seemingly putting a proposal to bed, the Leavenworth County Commission Thursday approved a change to its budget ― but not one that would effect the bottom line.

The budget will remain as proposed, with a zero-mill increase in property taxes, but Commission Chairman Bob Holland said since last week he had thought about the various proposals sent forward by the county's different departments and the county's reluctance to fund one of them in particular stuck with him.

“I got to thinking about this one, it bothered me,” he said.

That proposal had come from EMS director Jamie Miller, who told the commission at the time that he was continually losing employees to other departments around the Kansas City metropolitan area and beyond, particularly because the pay scale of the county started emergency medical technicians lower than their counterparts in those areas. In a spreadsheet presented to the commission Thursday, the human resources department outlined the current pay scale of EMS employees. The entry-level EMT position starts at $8.58 an hour and Miller said the employees in that position work 72 hours per each nine-day scheduling period. Miller estimated the crews run, on average, a call per hour each day.

“Let's face it, $8.58 an hour ― I'd hate to try to live off of it myself, let alone have a family,” Holland said.

In his budget proposal, Miller requested the commission adjust his employees' salary scale to put the positions more closely in line with the average. At the time, he said it was his top priority.

“We have an open slot right now that I can't even get any applicants for,” he said. “That's the problem that we're facing right now, and that's why I said during budget time I don't even want to entertain adding four positions because I can't fill what I have.”

The commission, however, did not build the requested amount to fully implement that reclassification, $236,000, into its 2014 budget. But they did at the end of the budget setting process have about $125,000 in funds scheduled to be transferred to the county's capital reserve account, not having been allocated to any of the specific projects this year.

“We have a substantial amount left but those are your decisions as to where you want the balance to go,” County Administrator Pat Hurley told the commission.

Holland said he was not interested in funding the full reclassification outlined in Miller's earlier budget hearing at this time, but did feel that the lower-paid EMT positions should receive a salary adjustment.

“I think we need to do something about the starting out of people and maybe we can help train them like we do and maybe we could retain them,” he said.

County Human Resources Director Diane Collins said the recommended proposal, which did not include all EMS staff members, would cost the county $112,000, plus benefit costs, and would result in a starting wage for EMTs of $10.82 per hour and a starting wage of $13.18 per hour for the more highly trained paramedic positions.

The county's contracted accountant, Steve Wagner, suggested the county take $12,500, made up of the difference between $50,000 allocated for 2014 to start saving for a major equipment replacement and $37,500 that had been allocated in 2013 for a vehicle purchase that has been delayed; cut $10,000 from the agreed $105,550 allocation for the Guidance Center's operations; and take $100,000 from the planned transfer to the capital reserve account, all to make up the funding needed for the reclassification plan.

The commissioners unanimously approved the plan.