The Geary County Commission welcomed new member Brad Scholz at its weekly meeting Monday, when he slipped into the seat once occupied by Ben Bennett.

The commission also elected member Keith Ascher as its chair for the 2020 year, replacing last year’s chair Charles Stimatze. Stimatze will serve in the roll of vice chair, while Scholz was named secretary.

“Today was mostly to just bring (Scholz) up to speed on how things work and what we do,” Ascher said.

“I’m learning a lot and looking forward to learning more,” Scholz said.

At this time, he said, he is familiarizing himself with the budget and the processes involved in his new position with the county commission.

Ascher said he looked forward to his year chairing the commission.

“This is my fourth year and up until now I’ve been vice chair all along,” he said. “So I think I’m ready for it.”

His goals for the commission, he said, are the same as in previous years.

Ascher said these goals included keeping the mill levy maintained, being fiscally responsible, making sure the county runs efficiently, keeping the roads safe, and keeping the Geary County Sheriff’s Department and Rural Fire Department and other county departments in working order.

The goal of keeping the mill levy flat could prove difficult for the commission in the face of Geary Community Hospital’s request to raise the millage it receives from the county.

“I think first of all we’ve got to look at it — at the budget process,” Ascher said. “The key thing is, we’re going to have to make sure that we try and stay under the tax lid. And we’ll have to approach it from that angle and if they make that request — which they have not — then we’ll just cross that bridge when we get to it. But I think that just means that — more than likely — that there’s going to be some other agencies or organizations that are going to have to take cuts.”

The matter will ultimately have to be voted on by the general public in an election.

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