December 3, 2009
Kansas Department of Agriculture
(785) 296-2653 phone
Ag department to suspend lodging inspections due to budget cuts
TOPEKA—Lodging inspections performed by the Kansas Department of Agriculture will be temporarily suspended due to state general fund budget cuts, department officials announced today.
“This is the painful reality of our current economic climate,” said Josh Svaty, acting secretary of agriculture. “Without adequate resources, we are forced to decide which services we can continue to provide and which ones we can’t. The cuts to our budget now mean that we won’t be able to inspect the safety and sanitation of Kansas’ hotels, motels and other overnight lodges.”
The department licenses 825 lodging facilities that include hotels, motels, lodges and bed-and-breakfast operations. To be licensed, each facility must undergo and pass an inspection that focuses on safety and sanitation. All facilities currently licensed have been inspected. Whether the department will be able to resume inspections will depend on future funding levels.
“Like all state agencies, we have weathered our fair share of budget cuts,” Svaty said. “We are looking at funding levels we haven’t seen since 1997, and that means we are no longer able to conduct business as usual. We’re operating with one-quarter fewer employees and trying to sustain our core services, but we’ve reached the point where it’s no longer possible.”
In its latest allotment, the department’s state general funding was reduced by $303,000. The cost of operating the lodging inspection program runs about $240,000 a year. Lodging facilities that have a food service operation, such as a café or restaurant that offers food for compensation, will continue to undergo food safety inspections.
As of now, the state general fund portion of the department’s fiscal year 2010 budget is $9.8 million, which is $2.4 million less than was appropriated in fiscal year 2008. The department is operating with 92 fewer employees through layoffs and unfilled vacancies. The number could grow to 100 in January as more layoffs are announced as a result of the latest cuts.