Kansas Municipal News


Shawnee repairing pipes from the inside out

Shawnee has a world of waste water pipes that do their job almost everyday without anyone noticing, except those in the city’s stormwater maintenance team.

Over the past couple weeks, steam has been billowing into the air from some of these pipes, rising from open man-hole covers and evaporating into the cold air.

The steam has become a more common sight in recent years around Shawnee as the city uses a complex system to help maintain and repair the city’s 176 miles of storm drainage pipes. The process is called Cured In Place Pipe (CIPP) and uses a type of resin to patch up metal corrugated pipes that are deteriorating around the city. Steam is used to set the resin and erupts form the pipes as a byproduct.

(Read more: The Dispatch stories)

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Lawmakers study pros and cons of moving municipal elections to November

…lawmakers did agree at the end of the 2014 session to have an interim committee study the issue and make a report to be considered in 2015.

On Friday, the Special Committee on Ethics, Elections and Local Government got down to work, and the first day of hearings showed the issue is fraught with controversy.

Among those testifying was Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew, who told the panel that moving municipal elections to November would make elections more complicated and wouldn’t necessarily increase voter turnout.

“We have concerns about the amount of ballots, the size of ballots, poll workers giving out multiple-page ballots, confusion among voters, that type of stuff if you move it to November of an even year,” Shew said.

(Read more: Lawrence Journal-World)

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City Hall/TPAC building could become part of historic district

Historic tax credits to help cover rehabilitation and preservation costs.

That is what the city of Topeka could qualify to receive if the 75-year-old City Hall/Topeka Performing Arts Center building it owns becomes part of a proposed Downtown National Historic District.

The Topeka City Council tentatively plans to discuss but not act on the matter during its meeting on Dec. 2.

(Read more: News)

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For Sale: Hutch’s Land Bank makes first property available for redevelopment

Hutchinson’s fledgling city Land Bank put its first property up for sale this week, a vacant lot at 300 W. Sherman that the previous owners donated to the organization.

Land Bank Chairman Mark Eaton and board members from the Land Bank and Housing Commission ceremonially planted a real estate sign – “Available. Hutchinson Land Bank. City of Hutchinson. (620) 694-2639. www.hutchgov.com/housing” – into the ground.

“It’s a start,” said Land Bank board member Jim Gilliland.

The parcel, which has been vacant for more than 40 years, is 175-by-175 feet, actually six of the original narrow residential building lots in the area just west of downtown.

“We’ve only been doing this Land Bank for less than a year, and we’re already seeing a lot happening,” said Eaton.

The city council approved creation of the Land Bank in September 2013 and it began operating in January 2014.

(Read more: The Hutchinson News – news/local state news,news/local state news/)

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Ellis to audit need for street lights as electrical bill escalates

The electric bill is going up dramatically for the city of Ellis and council members are considering reducing the number of city street lights and increasing the franchise tax customers would pay to meet the increase.

Midwest Energy spokesman Bob Muirhead explained to council members at their Nov. 17 meeting that Ellis has been under-billed by Midwest Energy for years.

Although the company doesn’t plan to go after back monies, Midwest Energy has corrected the city’s electric bill for street lights, an increase of approximately $1,000 per month.

(Read more: Hays Post)

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Neosho County resolves Kansas retirement underpayment for 2012

The Neosho County Commission approved payments totaling $29,036.28 to the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System and Kansas Police and Firemen’s Retirement system at its weekly regular meeting on Friday.
The county is required to make contributions to both public employee retirement systems based on a certain percentage of its payroll that changes periodically.
The county’s payroll software system, which was upgraded last year, had not been properly updated with the new percentages for several resulting in a shortage in contributions for parts of 2011, 2012 and 2013.

(Read more: The Chanute Tribune – news,news/)

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El Dorado City Commission, Inc discuss business recruitment

The El Dorado City Commission continued to look at what was being done to actively recruit businesses to the community and which businesses they were targeting Monday evening.
El Dorado Inc Executive Director Linda Jolly joined the commission to tell them about what Inc has been doing.
“In late 2012, El Dorado Inc started the effort to look at businesses we would have the potential to target in the future,” Jolly said.
They surveyed the board of directors and then had a discussion at their annual retreat.
“Beginning in the first part of January 2013, we started taking a look at the identified strengths and resources our board felt our community had to meet the needs of the businesses we wanted to target,” she continued.

(Read more: butlercountytimesgazette.com – Butler County Times Gazette)

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Reno County Commissioner proposes cutting commission meeting dates, salaries

A proposal by Reno County Commissioner Dan Deming to reduce commission meetings to twice a month – and cut commission salaries by $6,000 – is on Tuesday’s meeting agenda.

Deming proposed the changes in a Nov. 6 letter to his fellow commissioners, and asked that the proposal be taken up two weeks later.

While suggesting cutting meeting days from weekly to twice a month, he’s proposing to cut commission salaries by a third, rather than half, “as a compromise that might be palatable” to his fellow commissioners, he said.

“The premise is when we went from meeting twice a week to once a week three years ago, we agreed to drop (salaries) from $24,000 to $18,000,” Deming said. “It might make sense, considering we only have to come in every other week, to reduce it to $12,000.”

(Read more: The Hutchinson News – news/local state news,news/local state news/)

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Judge won’t dismiss suit against Salina in girl’s death

The family of a Salina girl who was fatally shocked may press ahead with a $10.5 million lawsuit.

The Salina Journal reports that a Judge Bill Elliott on Friday rejected the city of Salina’s motion to dismiss the suit. But he also stressed that Kansas law provides broad protection to municipalities.

The family of Jayden Hicks alleges that the city was aware of wiring problems.

(Read more: KAKE – HomePage – Headlines)

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Butler County begins investigation over Pleasant Township complaints

… the newest addition to the township, Treasurer Katie Gossman, addressed the commission.
“I’ve been doing this position for just over a month now and it’s absolutely miserable,” Gossman began. “I worked in a jail for two years dealing directly with inmates, I have worked a year on reserve patrol doing that job, I have even worked as a bouncer in a club dealing with drunks and their issues and I have never dealt with problems that are this bad. Jack (Armstrong, Township trustee) and Julie hate each other so bad that no matter what I try to do, it’s like they just want to destroy it. I have all these great plans of what I’d like to see with the township, but I can’t execute them as long as I can’t get them on board with anything. I spend most of my time listening to their complaints and trying to negotiate.”

(Read more: butlercountytimesgazette.com – Butler County Times Gazette)

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Junction City Appoints Allen Dinkel as New City Manager

Mayor Mike Ryan and City Commissioners have appointed Allen Denkel to be Junction City’s next City Manager. The appointment was effective [Thursday] with City Commission approval of a City Manager employment agreement at a special meeting of the City Commission.
Denkel’s career spans nearly 25 years in municipal management. He has across-the-board experience in all aspects of municipal management and service delivery. He will be resigning his current position as City Administrator in Neodesha, Kansas. His previous positions in Kansas include City Manager at Abilene; City Manager at Hoisington; and City Administrator at Oakley. His experience in infrastructure development – streets, parks, and water and sewer lines – goes beyond the ordinary challenges. His career is notable for his role as City Administrator in helping Hoisington successfully recover from an F-4 tornado that destroyed more than one-third of the community. In his Neodesha position he has assumed a lead role in retaining and recruiting industrial businesses, and improving the City’s general and utility fund balances. Dinkel also has a track record of obtaining federal and state grants for municipal projects. He earned a masters degree in agriculture from Fort Hays State University.

“I appreciate the opportunity to be the next City Manager of Junction City. Paula and I look with great interest to move and become a part of the community.” said Denkel. Even though there have been and will always be challenges, I feel confident in becoming part of the City team that will help make the community a great place to live and work.”
Denkel will assume his new position on January 5, 2015.

(Read more: Junction City, KS – News Flash)

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Topeka Fire Department considers new substitution practices

The Topeka Fire Department is considering policy changes regarding substitutions, including prohibiting firefighters from paying for substitutes to work their shifts.

Fire Chief Greg Bailey on Wednesday released to the department a proposed new standard operating guideline for leaving with substitutions — what some refer to as caddying — that would overhaul the current practice.

The news comes three weeks after The Topeka Capital-Journal first reported the issue. The practice allows employees to take time off — sometimes to work a second job — and accrue pension, pay and time as if they were on the clock. In some instances, firefighters made cash payments to substitutes for less than half of their hourly rate.

(Read more: News)

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Douglas County administrator expects jail expansion to cost up to $30 million

Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug estimates an expansion of the Douglas County Jail will carry a price tag of between $20 million and $30 million.

“I have no idea how accurate or inaccurate that might be,” Weinaug said, referring to the fact that there is still much information gathering to be done on the project. “We know it’s a big item.”

County officials have said rising inmate populations and an increased obligation to provide mental health services will necessitate an expansion within three years. The jail opened in 1999, featuring 196 beds for a price of $22 million.

(Read more: LJWorld.com stories)

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Vice mayor: China exports ‘shot in the arm’ Wichita needs

Expanded exports to China, particularly among Wichita’s general aviation suppliers, is what the city needs to boost its economy, says Vice Mayor Jeff Blubaugh.

Blubaugh recently returned from a trade trip to China with Mayor Carl Brewer and representatives from local aviation companies that resulted in the opening of two Wichita aviation liaison offices and the signing of memorandums of understanding to help bolster trade.

“If we do this right, this is going to be huge for Wichita,” said Blubaugh, who worked at Cessna for 17 years before getting into real estate. “This is the big shot in the arm that we need.”

(Read more: Breaking News, Sports, Weather & More | The Wichita Eagle & Kansas.com)

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Junction City Fire Crews Training on New Aerial Apparatus

The Junction City Fire Department took possession of their new aerial apparatus last week and fire crews have been training on the new truck this week.

The apparatus was purchased using a fire fighters assistance grant through AERIAL APPARATUSFEMA awarded to the JCFD in 2013. It was custom built for the department through Rosenbauer LLC according to Fire Chief Kevin Royse.

“We had quite a bit of a say in the design and construction that would fit our department. It has been well worth the wait,” said Royse.

(Read more: JC Post)

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Judge orders mediation in employee’s discrimination suit against city

A federal judge this month ordered mediation in a Topeka city government employee’s lawsuit against the city.

Topeka-based attorney Robert Eye filed the lawsuit last February on behalf of Steele, an African-American woman who says the city government discriminated against her on the basis of gender and race.

The complaint said Steele resigned from that position in April 2011 and took a nonmanagement city job as a fire management accounting specialist. It described the move as a “demotion that resulted in a reduction in pay, benefits and status.”

Steele’s suit contends she was “constructively discharged” from her manager’s position. Constructive discharge occurs when an employer unlawfully creates working conditions so intolerable that a reasonable person in the employee’s position would feel forced to resign.

(Read more: News)

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Work to begin on failed Edgerton quiet zone

Construction is set to begin today, Nov. 19, on upgrades to railroad quiet zones in Edgerton. Last spring, contract workers completed improvements to create quiet zones at railroad crossings at 199th Street and at Nelson Street in Edgerton. With the improvements, officials were hopeful that trains would no longer need to regularly sound their horns within city limits. However, the Federal Railroad Administration notified Edgerton officials that the improvements did not meet federal requirements to establish quiet zones at the at-grade rail crossings.

(Read more: Gardner News)

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WaKeeney accepts donation of Wilcox School property

The city of WaKeeney has accepted a donation of the Wilcox school property. City council members voted in favor of the donation during their Nov. 4 meeting.

The Trego WaKeeney Community Foundation lost its tax exempt status, and a grant application to the Kansas State Historical Society for restoring the school requires a new sponsoring agency, explained WaKeeney city manager Hardy Howard.

The city also accepted the remaining funds held by the TWCF on behalf of Wilcox school.

(Read more: Hays Post)

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Shawnee County approves sales tax agreement for Topeka to consider

Shawnee County has made its initial offer to the city of Topeka regarding how the countywide half-cent sales tax dollars should be spent — and it includes a few changes from the last time the city looked at project prices.

The Shawnee County Commission on Thursday unanimously approved the proposed interlocal agreement, which includes project costs and operating guidelines for the Joint Economic Development Organization for the 15-year extension voters approved in November.

(Read more: News)

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Agreement reached in Republican River Basin water management adds ‘certainty’ to future of water for the state

An agreement reached between three states Wednesday has the potential to fix problems with providing water to Kansans in the long run, officials say.

Representatives from Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado met in Manhattan to discuss “operational adjustments in 2014 and 2015,” which fall under the Republican River Compact. This compact, according to a release for the Kansas Department of Agriculture, “will benefit water users throughout the (Republican River) Basin and get the Administration on a course to find long-term solutions to persistent problems.”

(Read more: News)

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Five-county plan looks at how disparities can become prosperity

Local resident Paula Downs, heads the Regional Economic Area Partnership’s $1.5 million, three-year study called the South Central Kansas Prosperity Plan. The study started in 2012 and covers a five-county area.
The study of Butler, Harvey, Reno, Sedgwick and Sumner counties is an effort to spur regional economic competitiveness and coordinate planning strategies, Downs said. The issue found with the five counties, which are largely linked by their proximity to Wichita, is that three are growing and two are losing population at an alarming rate.
In the next 30 years…while Sedgwick County is expected to gain nearly 22 percent in population, its neighbor to the south, Sumner County, is expected to lose about 29 percent of its population.
“They are concerned about that,” Downs said. “They need to start turning the tide.”
There are links which do not stop with county borders. With Sumner County’s northern border less than 10 miles from Derby, the impact to such a population loss could be significant in the numbers of people who travel from that area to shop.
“We all are in this together,” Downs said. “Our communities are facing a lot of issues.”

(Read more: DerbyInformer.com – news,news/)

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Sedgwick Co. to start search for hiring firm, county manager

Sedgwick County leaders are starting the search for county manager.

Assistant County Manager Ron Holt said the county is drafting a Request for Proposal to find an executive search firm. The firm would recruit for the county’s top staff job.

Because the proposal has not been approved, Holt said they do not have a budget set. However, a recent job search for a Human Resources Director cost the county $23,276.91. According to county staff, the county contracted with Bob Murray & Associates in Roseville, Calif. The costs include professional services and reimbursable expenses such as airfare, advertising and lodging.

It may take a firm six months to find a candidate for the job.

(Read more: KAKE – HomePage – Headlines)

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Sign tells passersby to check out Marion

The sign of the times is a new sign, at least in Marion.
In an effort to upgrade its highway marketing and community branding, the city council last week approved the installation of a large sign at US-56 and Eisenhower Drive. …

In comparison to other Marion highway billboards, the new logo is simple, with a sun rising over blue waves, a row of travel icons and a quote that reads: “One of the nation’s best high schools — Newsweek.”
The idea for a welcome sign came from Marion Economic Development, Inc. more than 16 months ago. But when the organization’s funding stalled, the city took over the project, Holter said.

(Read more: Marion County RECORD)

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Lenexa to unveil plans for $75 million civic center, plans to move its downtown

Lenexa will soon be moving its downtown. Construction on a brand new city hall and community center begins in a few months, and tonight, they are unveiling their plans to the community.

Every community works wants to grow, doing whatever it takes to attract families and businesses. Lenexa will soon have a leg up in the competition once the brand new $75 million dollar civic center is built.

Besides a new city hall, the crown jewel will be the new community center. …

“We want to be known as an innovative community,” Todd Pelham, assistant city administrator, said. “We feel like we are a leader in the delivery of public service. We feel this is another amenity that we can highlight to other communities”

(Read more: fox4kc.com)

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In national restroom contest, Lucas, KS is No. 2


There is no other way to say it: The public has spoken, and we are No. 2 in the America’s Best Restroom contest.

The public restrooms at Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia were voted No. 1.

The news was announced Wednesday, which was World Toilet Day.

In September, the Grassroots Art Center’s Bowl Plaza in Lucas was selected as one of the finalists in the “Top 10” best restrooms in the nation. The competition is sponsored by Cintas, a company that designs restrooms.

The top restrooms were based on cleanliness, visual appeal, innovation, functionality and unique design elements.

In a contest where people could vote for their favorite restroom in the U.S., the tiny Russell County town’s only public restroom quickly rose to the top.

(Read more: The Wichita Eagle & Kansas.com)

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Finney County continues talking about inspections

Finney County officials on Monday did not veer from a proposed split of building inspection and code enforcement activities from Garden City, though some county commissioners wondered if they are being too hasty.

Two weeks ago, the Finney County commission voted to begin its own code enforcement and building inspection activities after an inter-local agreement with Garden City for those services expires at the end of 2015.

Commissioner Cliff Mayo said … he has an issue with how some inspectors in the Garden City planning and community development office have communicated with contractor companies over the years. The planning department is also responsible for enforcement and inspection services for the county and Holcomb under inter-local agreements.

Read more: Garden City Telegram.

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Incentives to be considered for Derby businesses

Derby’s city leaders are working to create tools which could help existing local businesses.

The project is largely still conceptual only, but council members did prioritize the project in the upper half of the city manager’s priority list for work.

City Manager Kathy Sexton said the city will begin a study of the West End – primarily the business and manufacturing areas between K-15 and the Arkansas River and south of Market – early next year. …

“The goal of creating incentives for redevelopment in older parts of the city is to ensure that the city is being a good partner with private property owners in providing an environment for all business to thrive,” Sexton said.

Read more: Derby Informer.

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Wichita asks county to extend tax district for groundwater pollution cleanup

Seeking to take the next step in a decades-long process of cleaning up pollution in central Wichita, city officials went before Sedgwick County commissioners Tuesday seeking their permission to extend a special tax district to pay for the long-term cleanup.

On Wednesday, commissioners will consider whether to add 10 years to the life of the North Industrial Corridor tax increment finance district, a move that would generate an estimated $11.65 million toward cleaning up polluted groundwater. At present, the district has a balance of about $9.65 million.

(Read more: Wichita Eagle & Kansas.com)

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Pratt County moving forward with recycling plans

Pratt County is moving closer to expanding cardboard recycling at the Pratt County Recycling center.
Pratt County Commissioners were updated at their monthly meeting Monday night.
Landfill manager Jason Winkel presented options for cardboard containers and had researched where the new containers could be placed to be the most efficient.
His research included the times of the year when the demand for cardboard was high and low. He spoke with a representative from International Paper that told him he was stockpiling cardboard until the demand went back up in spring.

(Read more: pratttribune.com – PrattTribune – Pratt, KS)

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Junction City Narrows City Manager Search to One Candidate

The Junction City Commission went into two executive sessions Tuesday night, both for approximately 20 minutes and narrowed it’s search for the next City Manager down from two candidates to one, but they’re not saying who.

When the commission came out of executive session they went right into the commissioner comments portion of their meeting.

After thanking the public for their participation in the candidate forums held last Thursday Mayor Mike Ryan said,”I know everybody’s anxiously awaiting a decision and hopefully it will be coming in a few days.”

(Read more: JC Post)

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