There is currently one dog and one patrol car associated with McPherson’s K-9 unit.

There is currently one dog and one patrol car associated with McPherson’s K-9 unit.

Both are set to retire in 18 months, and the city may not rebuild the program.

The K-9 unit was one of the items raised by McPherson Police Chief Rob McClarty during budget meetings on Thursday.

McClarty said the purchase of a new K-9 patrol car would cost $25,000, the cost to outfit the vehicle would be about $8,000. The cost for a new dog would be $10,000 and training for the unit would be several thousand more.

McClarty said the unit is a benefit to the police department, but the cost behind rebuilding the unit, and the benefit it provides in the long run, is questionable among expected cuts.

“The K-9 is a huge resource to us,” McClarty said, “but we have this question whether to rebuild the program and if the budget will allow us to maintain it.”

Mayor Tom Brown questioned the cost of rebuilding the unit as well.

“It’s too much money for what we’re putting in and what we’re getting out of it,” he said.

Brown said he had no problem with the dog itself, but behind the cost of purchasing a new vehicle.

Both Brown and McClarty said they agreed the police department would work with the county and highway patrol if the need for a K-9 unit arises.

No definitive decision has been made on whether the unit will be rebuilt. The item is expected to be discussed in budget hearings next year.

Hospital to add specialist program

About 50 percent of elders within McPherson County will migrate to hospitals outside of the county for care, said George Halama, McPherson Hospital CFO.

In order to curb those numbers, the hospital plans to hire a hospitalist this August.

A hospitalist is a physician whose primary focus is hospital medicine.

Halama said, currently, most patients needing medicinal care are transferred to hospitals with hospitalists. By hiring one for McPherson, patients will have full access at the hospital, rather than needing to wait on their primary-care provider.

Halama said 75 percent of hospitals within Kansas are utilizing hospitalists or are looking to start hospitalist programs.

In other business:

• McClarty said the police chaplaincy program is entirely funded through donations. To date, he said the program has received $6,600 in donations.

• Carla Barber, director for the McPherson Museum and Art Foundation, said the foundation has raised all the money necessary to build the new museum. Some fundraising will continue for other things that aren’t yet financed, but Barber said she felt confident the goals would be met.

• Tom Chandler, McPherson Airport manager, said the airport will wait a few years on new projects in order to save up Federal Aviation Administration Entitlement Funds, which can be banked for up to three years. Chandler said he hopes after saving funds, to begin reconstruction of Taxiway A at the airport.