Jail progress

Builders work on the administrative area of the new jail addition that will house the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department and serve as the new courthouse entrance once the addition and remodel project is completed.  Dickinson County Commissioners Lynn Peterson, Craig Chamberlin and Ron Roller, along with former county commissioner LaVerne Myers and County Administrator Brad Homman toured the new jail construction during work session Thursday. 

Dickinson County officials were happily surprised to see that sales tax collections for the month of April were up — way up.

“We didn’t guess it would be this way,” said County Administrator Brad Homman.

When Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued a statewide stay-at-home order in late March geared to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Homman and Finance Director Janelle Dockendorf were concerned sales tax collections would plummet.

However, the opposite happened.

The county received $129,899.42 in sales tax for the month of April, according to the most recent report from the state. That is the highest monthly total recorded in 2019 or so far in 2020, according to data provided by the county.

The April total is more than $33,000 higher than the $96,247.16 collected in April 2019, bringing the year to date total up to $662,140.91 — a $58,757.49 increase from the same time last year.

While Dickinson County did well, Salina and Saline County really took a hit, Homman noted, “It is nice in this instance not to be a regional retail hub. Everybody in the last several months has stayed home and done business locally, bought their groceries locally, didn’t go to Salina or Manhattan or wherever.”

“In light of everything negative — that is a good thing. It did help out. It tells me local business continued to function at least to some degree,” Homman said.

County officials were expecting a 20 to 25 percent reduction in sales tax.

Fearing the worst, county elected officials and department heads were asked to cut 10 percent out of their 2020 budgets.

Just as regular sales tax increased, so too did the county’s special sales tax that only can be used for road and bridge projects.

The $123,823.57 in special collections from April is nearly $31,000 higher than the $92,915.22 revenue collected in April 2019.

The 2020 yearly total in special sales tax to date is $632,436.24, which is $49,281.49 more than at this time in 2019.

Other

• The annual sale of properties with delinquent taxes is set for 10 a.m. Monday in the courthouse.

Approximately 20 properties currently are listed on the sale. Plans are to keep attendees “socially distanced.”

The sale has been rescheduled twice already due to COVID-19.

Homman said he visited with 4-H Youth Development Agent Jill Martinson with the Dickinson County office about the new Chisholm Trail Extension District No. 20 purchasing the building on South Buckeye that has long served as extension’s home.

“They’re willing to take the building, but they don’t have any budget money between now and January 1 to pay utilities and do things because they are in our (Dickinson County’s) budget,” Homman said.

“I told her we’d continue to run things through the rest of this year, but when we get to January when you get some ad valorum taxes coming in we’ll get a quitclaim deed to transfer it,” he explained.

That also will give him time to visit with Prairieland Partners, which rents space in the building, to talk about the transfer, he said.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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