In November 2021 Kiowa County voters rejected the county wide ballot issue to implement a county sales and use tax of 1.5% which would be used to generate funds for the county general fund.
Through the meetings that were held prior to election day by the county commissioners, voters learned that the county was in serious danger of cutting more benefits, time, and services if they were not able to fill their coffers with more revenue.
Now that the election has come and gone, and the commissioners have had time to consider next steps for the county without the county sales tax, we have begun to see the fall out of the changes our county offices and services will endure.
In a regularly scheduled KCBOCC meeting, the board of commissioners made several decisions regarding the future of Kiowa County Services and employees.
One of the votes that was taken at this meeting was to move to a 4-day work week and to give a 5% raise to those employees who will remain at the standard 40 hour per week. The employees who will be affected by this decision is the Road and Bridge employees as they will move to 4 10-hour days year-round. This vote was unanimous by all commissioners.
County administrator, Tina Adamson says that “Moving our Road & Bridge hours to 4-day work weeks will make a substantial savings and there are at least 15 vehicles that will not be used one day a week. We can’t say for sure the exact dollar amount of savings to the county, but we are anticipating possibly a $20,000 annual savings or more. By not filling 3 of the positions, that will make less equipment that the County has to purchase and maintain so that would be a huge savings also.”
Another change to the Road and Bridge department is that Kiowa County will no longer be able to furnish a free load of gravel annually to county residents. Gravel may still be purchased from the County, but the individual purchasing the gravel will need to haul or make arrangements to haul it themselves. Other than routine maintenance and repairs; damages to roads and right of ways, culverts and cattle guards caused by landowners or their employees will now be billed to the landowners. If you receive a bill for these types of services and you have any questions you are encouraged to call the Commissioner’s Office.
Another vote that passed 2-1 with Commissioner Lening voting nay, was to change the hours for office staff in the courthouse, public health office, and social services to 8am-5pm Monday through Thursday. Instead of a 5% cost of living raise, these employees will continue to work at the same hourly wage but work less hours per week giving them a 10% raise in hourly wages which does not increase the county salary budget.
The changes to the work week for office staff will reduce office hours by 3.5 hours per week, and the commissioners feel that a 4-day work week will offer a little more incentive for staff, and in addition they are hoping that it will help with retention of employees.
The Kiowa County Public Library is exempt from this new office staff rule, as they have already gone down to 4 days per week. The library will continue to be open Tuesday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm. The north door of the courthouse will be unlocked for library patrons on Fridays.
The Kiowa County Landfill will now be open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 8am-3:30 pm. The landfill crew will be working on recycling on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The commissioners also voted unanimously to increase the price per pound fee at the landfill from 3 cents to 5 cents per pound.
A 2-cent increase for commercial haulers such as Town of Eads and locally owned and operated DW Waste out of Sheridan Lake will undoubtably mean that there will be an increase to the trash and dumpster services that we the users will see. The haulers will need to charge more for trash services to make up for the increase that they will feel each time they empty their trucks at the landfill.
Local commercial haulers DW Waste attended the most recent BOCC meeting on December 30, 2021, to address this issue with the commissioners. The owners stated that this fee increase is a hit to their bottom line around $12,000 annually.
Garold Deines stated that the fee increase would negatively affect their bottom line and they simply cannot pass this increase down to their customers.
Because their company bills quarterly and they have already billed their clients, they will need to go back to their clients and inform them that the price that was quoted to them for the first quarter will need to be adjusted due to the increase of landfill fees.
After much talk and speculation, the owners of DW Waste asked that the BOCC delay the increase for a 6-month period to allow for the company to assess what they can do to protect their customers as well as their bottom line in the wake of these increases.
After the owners left the meeting the BOCC discussed the topic and voted to delay the fee increase for the two commercial haulers, DW Waste and the Town of Eads for 6 months.
As of Monday January 3, the Town Clerk Robin Fox stated, “We have not had a meeting to discuss this matter since they notified us that they were raising the fee.”