When Leavenworth County commissioners met Tuesday, they raised the idea of asking voters to approve a tax increase for the county’s 2020 budget.

When Leavenworth County commissioners met Tuesday, they raised the idea of asking voters to approve a tax increase for the county’s 2020 budget.

Commissioners took no action on the issue. And while the issue was raised, it is unclear whether commissioners would support going forward with the matter.

The issue came up during a second day of budget meetings as commissioners reviewed a request for an increase in funding for the Leavenworth County K-State Research and Extension Office.

The County Commission allocates funding for the Extension Office each year.

The county provided $240,458 in funding to the Extension Office for 2019. Officials with the Extension Office have requested $436,458 for 2020, an increase of $196,000.

County Administrator Mark Loughry said the county budget that has been presented to commissioners for consideration includes only a 1.5% increase for the Extension Office to cover a rise in the consumer price index.

Loughry said the $50.8 million county budget that has been presented to commissioners keeps the county’s mill levy flat.

The mill levy is used in determining property taxes.

The county government is subject to a state tax lid law. And County Clerk Janet Klasinski said commissioners could increase spending in the proposed budget by only about $75,000 without having to seek voter approval for a mill levy increase.

Officials with the Extension Office are seeking increased funding for things such as paying more for rent for additional space as well as two additional staff positions.

Commissioner Chad Schimke raised the idea of putting additional funding to a vote of the public.

Commissioner Vicky Kaaz also mentioned the possibility of putting a mill levy increase to a vote.

“We’re going to figure out something,” she said.

She said if commissioners seek such a ballot initiative, they would need help from representatives of the Extension Office to provide information to the public.

If commissioners were to seek a public vote to raise the county’s mill levy, the issue would appear on the ballot in a special election. The election would utilize mail ballots, County Clerk Janet Klasinski said.

Commissioner Mike Stieben asked what would happen if the Extension Office does not receive the funding increase that has been requested.

“We’ll survive,” said Tim Goetz, chairman of the Extension Office’s Executive Board.

Stieben asked about the Extension Office’s priorities for additional funding.

Goetz said he would like to find a conference room that can be used by the Extension Office and funding for at least one additional staff member.

Goetz said the Extension Office has been drawing on its savings to supplement the funding it receives.

“Every year, we’ve been robbing out of our savings account,” he said.

Also Tuesday, commissioners met with county elected officials to review their budget requests.

Commissioners also reviewed the budget proposal for the Council on Aging.

Commissioners are scheduled to have another budget meeting at 10 a.m. today. This will follow the commission’s regular weekly meeting.

Commissioners will meet for another budget meeting at 9 a.m. July 23.

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