As we head into a new year – and the planning of the 2025 budget – it’s important to lay out specific objectives I hope to work towards over the next 12 months. I’ve long been a believer in written goals, and it’s imperative that we do our best to articulate a specific strategy and direction to move our community in. The overarching goal is healthy community, and while some of these items are achievable in the short term, others will take multiple years and budget cycles to accomplish.
Below are the TEN objectives I’ve identified for 2024:
1- Stability and Compensation Enhancements. My initial campaign goal of staffing stability will continue in 2024 and 2025. Instability in workforce, particularly public safety, will significantly impact our ability to perform effective and efficient services. Although all 46 county departments will require analysis, I’m specifically interested in compensation strategies for EMS, Sheriff, 911, Corrections and MABCD.
2- Property Tax Reform. Nearly 43% of our county revenues are generated through property taxes. I contend that we are too dependent on property taxes – and sharp increases of this particular tax has a significantly negative impact to our constituents. How do we reduce dependance? How do we shift burden and find other models to fund non-core services? This is a primary and necessary conversation as we continue to see the cost of government increasing.
3- Homelessness Plan Development. There was a lot of movement in the homelessness conversation in our community. As we look to continue support and the shaping of a broad, long term community plan, we must also focus on short-term solutions dealing with shelter, services and encampments.
4- Community Paramedic Model. Nearly 35% of EMS calls don’t result in a transport. Are there opportunities to modernize our strategy with EMS? Many people think so and I’d like to collaborate with leadership to determine short term and long-term planning.
5- Fire District Unification. Changes in compensation brought significant stability to our SCFD the last year, but long term progress will require assessed value growth in the Fire District. I’m excited to engage the conversation and seek out opportunities for consistency, partnership and uniformity in the geographical area making up our Fire District.
6- Functional Consolidation Opportunities. Reform is needed to counter the growing cost of government. We should look for opportunities to partner, consolidate or collaborate areas that are not core services or where we find redundancies. Shared services can reduce cost and improve efficiencies.
7- Juvenile Corrections Campus. A $20M+ Community Investment Project (CIP) is in process for a new juvenile corrections campus. I am advocating to look in depth at programming and services to ensure we have the right, modern approach to best serve our vulnerable youth.
8- COMCARE Collaboration. Behavioral health issues are growing in our community, so how do we best position COMCARE to meet these challenges? Do we grow their reach or look towards strategic partnerships in the community? COMCARE is uniquely positioned to lead and I hope to position them well.
9- Annexation Clean Up. Island annexations over the last 25+ years has led to an inconsistent and incongruent map in District 4. This poses real challenges with public works and our Sheriff’s department on who (City or County) is responsible for what? I will be meeting with Public Works and City Manager’s in Maize, Valley Center and Park City to work through potential opportunities.
10- Northwest Expressway. This is a project that has been in discussion for 30+ years. The overall plan, to connect K-96 to Kellogg through west Sedgwick County has the potential to spur incredible economic development – but the costs are still unknown and there isn’t cooperation amongst key stakeholders. Sedgwick County is spending $1 million annually, with a KDOT match, to purchase right of way property. I will help to re-establish the NW Expressway Coalition and try to determine viability, and next steps, for the project.