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The county fights back with pressure groups


Understanding the importance of maintaining a presence on state and national stages, the Barton Commission approved renewals to a number of lobbying and advocacy organizations Wednesday morning.

First was National County Association 2023 membership. Based on population, dues total $553, said operations manager Matt Patzner.

The groups support nearly 40,000 elected county officials and 3.6 million county employees. “Established in 1935, NACo unites county officials to support county priorities and federal policymaking, exemplary county policies and practices, cultivate leadership skills and expand knowledge networks, optimize county and taxpayer resources and cost savings and enrich public understanding and governance,” Patzner said.

“This is a great value,” said District 5 Commissioner Donna Zimmerman.

Second was Kansas County Association membership 2023. Based on a calculation that includes a base rate, population and assessment, dues are $6,124.34, Patzner said.

“The association sponsors the annual KAC conference, various educational meetings throughout the year, and lobbying state and federal legislatures on behalf of Kansas counties,” he said.

“I happen to know this is valuable,” said commission chair Shawn Hutchinson, District 3. Recently, several of the commissioners attended the KAC-sponsored training for new commissioners in Topeka.

“I really think he’s very valuable to our county,” said District 2 Commissioner Barb Esfeld.

Finally there was membership in the Kansas 2023 Legislative Policy Group. Dues are $5,471.34.

“The KLPG is a bipartisan coalition of western Kansas counties with a common interest in preserving the county’s tax base and maintaining local control,” Patzner said. With 34 member counties, it serves as a political and decision-making body that sets legislative priorities at its annual meeting and provides keynote speakers to speak to members on the important topics of the day.

Esfeld attended the KLPG Winter Meeting in Topeka on Tuesday and said that this organization is worth it. “They are very, very active and proactive in helping the counties they belong to,”

The KLPG brought a lot of money back to the county, Zimmerman said. Several years ago, the group helped pay back just over $2 million from the oil and gas depletion trust fund, so “it’s very beneficial.”

They are also planning hearings on grain elevators that would be of great interest to Barton County, Esfeld said.

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