Kansas Municipal News

Objections don’t stop development

A mystery business that may begin selling pharmaceuticals, groceries, and fuel in Hillsboro is causing a stir countywide.
Despite repeated protests from some businesses, Hillsboro City Council approved a contract for a national mystery business for the second time Tuesday.
The business, which has not yet been named, but is rumored to sell fuel, groceries, and pharmaceuticals will be developed in Hillsboro industrial park near Dollar General by Hawkins Edwards, Inc.
Hillsboro Economic Development Director Clint Seibel said he did not solicit the business, but it wasn’t his job to turn it away.
“We generally don’t recruit business we don’t need,” he said. “We recruit business to fill a niche, and it’s my job to see that businesses can get space and assist businesses that want to come in.”
Owners of local businesses that might be impacted have spoken against the project.

(Read more: HILLSBORO Star-Journal)


Brown water? How bad it is depends on the city

Brown water plagues Marion and Peabody residents, but Hillsboro doesn’t get the same number of complaints.
How quickly the three cities are replacing their nearly 100-year-old cast-iron waterlines with PVC pipe is one reason.
But so, too, may be a difference in how the cities deal with pipes suspected of being encrusted with mineral deposits.
Marion and Peabody both flush their lines at fire hydrants. Hillsboro doesn’t.
And Hillsboro water supervisor Morgan Marler says this may be one of the reasons Hillsboro gets fewer complaints.
Cast-iron pipes often contain several inches of brown rust mineral deposits, Marler says.
Even though treated water now is balanced to avoid such buildups, modern treatment can’t get rid of buildup that happened years ago.

(Read more: HILLSBORO Star-Journal)


Residents unhappy county didn’t notify them of impending decision

Connie David says the Shawnee County Commission should have at least notified her and her husband, Pepper David, before considering a decision that affects their driveway.

Commissioners Bob Archer, Kevin Cook and Shelly Buhler voted 3-0 Monday to waive a county requirement that Thomas Schmar, who owns property adjoining the land where the Davids live at 4534 S.W. Auburn Road, provide access to his property through its own street frontage.

The move essentially enables Schmar to access his land using a permanent easement he holds on a driveway that runs through the Davids’ property, said county public works director Tom Vlach.

Connie David said Wednesday she wondered how the county could justify granting or changing easement rights provided to a second party, who did not own the Davids’ land, without first notifying the couple.

(Read more: News)


Lawsuit against Mission, police officers in Catrina Engle case dismissed voluntarily; terms being kept secret

The multi-million dollar lawsuit against the City of Mission over a March 2013 incident at the Mission post office on Broadmoor has been ended, but the terms of the agreement that led to its dismissal are being kept secret.

Catrina Engle had sued the city, then police chief John Simmons and officers Timothy Gift and Michelle Pierce, asking for $1.75 million in compensatory damages and $1.75 in punitive damages. The suit was dismissed voluntarily in late June by both sides with each party paying its own attorney’s fees. The city was represented by attorneys for its insurance company.

(Read more: Prairie Village Post)


Zoning plan draws realtors in Hays

Approximately 30 realtors and developers gathered Monday in Hays City Hall to learn about the process set to overhaul the city’s zoning and subdivision regulations.

Some dissent was shared at the meeting.

Errol G. Wuertz Sr., owner of Heartland Realty of Hays LLC, addressed the planning commissioners with a two-page list of concerns he and others had about the proposed ideas.

Banning pole signs outside the Interstate 70 corridor, requiring landscaping or fences to block outdoor storage areas and mandating drought resistant shade trees in certain size parking lots were among the targeted issues.

(Read more: The Hays Daily News RSS)


Saline County Commission petition verified, expansion added to ballot

Saline County voters officially have a new issue to decide on this November and it could change the makeup of their county commission. They have the option to vote to expand the commission from three to five people.

The county clerk’s office approved a petition turned in earlier this month, which needed 1647 signatures. Petition organizers say they hope the additional commissioners will give a broader base to work from and keep people from being bullied from within the commission.

The approval means the question will be on the ballot in November. Organizers say they are glad to give voters the choice.

(Read more: KWCH Top Stories)


Edwardsville sales tax turnout questionable

Former Edwardsville Mayor Heinz Rogers admits he didn’t like the idea of a special sales tax to fund city projects at all.

“In the previous years that this has been on the ballot for the city, I have not voted positively because I was not in favor of a sales tax increase,” he said. “… When I was first asked to be on the city’s (sales tax) task force, I said ‘You probably don’t want me, because I haven’t been an advocate for it.’”

But Rogers joined the task force because the city wanted the members to reflect a variety of opinions on sales taxes. After learning about the city’s needs and realizing that Edwardsville had the lowest sales tax rate in the area because every city surrounding Edwardsville used special sales taxes, he changed his mind…

(Read more: BonnerSprings.com stories)


Health Department Proposes Codes For Geary County Pools

Pools throughout Geary County could receive new safety standards.

The Environmental Health Department sought approval of a code draft on Monday from the Geary County Commission.

A pool code for public and semi-public pools was proposed in order to prevent potential public health issues and enforce minimum safety standards.

“We looked around and the only communities that had some kind of a swimming pool code were Wichita, Lawrence, and that’s it,” said Geary County Commissioner Ben Bennett. “So we thought maybe it was a good idea, especially with the transient things that we have going on here in Geary County.”

(Read more: WIBW – HomePage – Headlines)


Topeka pays construction firm $29,238 settlement

Topeka’s city government has paid $29,238 to Topeka-based Graybeal Construction Co. to resolve a lawsuit it filed last year regarding a street project, city communications and marketing director Suzie Gilbert confirmed Tuesday.

Gilbert said Graybeal Construction, city engineer Shawn Bruns and city manager Jim Colson approved the payment pursuant to the fourth change order made to the city’s contract with Graybeal for the project.

Assistant city attorney Seth Lowry responded Tuesday regarding why the decision wasn’t covered by a city policy that requires city council approval to pay settlements of more than $10,000.

Lowry said that during negotiations that continued after the suit was filed, the city and Graybeal agreed on the $29,238 amount for the fourth change order.

He added: “That change order was executed in compliance with the terms established in the contract between Graybeal and the City. The 4th change order essentially rendered Graybeal’s lawsuit moot, and thus, Graybeal filed its motion requesting that the court dismiss its lawsuit.”

(Read more: News)


Johnson County is getting older, not slowing down

Johnson County as a whole is getting older. Its 65-plus population made up 10.9 percent in 2010 and already 12.2 percent in 2013, according to the U.S. Census.

Although similar statistics aren’t kept for the oldest-old, growth in that age group is expected to mirror the 60-plus residents, said Daniel Goodman, director of the Johnson County Area Agency on Aging.

The total Johnson County population is expected to increase 57 percent from 2010 to 2040, but the 60-plus group will more than double in that time frame. They will make up about 24.2 percent of the county’s population in 2040, according to the Johnson County Commission on Aging.

(Read more: Joco 913 News | The Kansas City Star & KansasCity.com)


Citizen hires attorney to write letter to city: St. John needs to adopt a more open government

Attorney Robert Coykendall …stated in a letter addressed to city attorney Rodney Lyons, that St. John needed to adopt a “more open and inclusive approach to governing.”
Coykendall’s law firm represents, Steve and Jeni Jones in various manners … [including looking] into the handling of the purchase of the Olivier property by council member Kevin Davis.

Steve and Jeni Jones were among those that questioned the ethics behind the sale since councilman Davis had been involved in the decision-making process that ended up razing a hazardous structure and cleaning up the lot at the city’s expense.
Jones owns the property north of the lot, Davis purchased the building south of the lot and the Olivier property shortly after the agreement to demolish the building was completed.

The letter states that a more public discussion of the City’s role in the transaction and inclusion in city minutes would have placed all interested parties on equal bargaining footing in regard to possible acquisition of the cleared property, and would have avoided “the clear appearance of impropriety that resulted when the property was acquired by secret treaty by a council member who was one of the few citizens in the city who had knowledge of the City’s role with regard to the property.

(Read more: pratttribune.com)


Harper County considers earthquake insurance

With more earthquakes hitting Oklahoma everyday, towns just north of the border are wanting to make sure their historic buildings are preserved.

In the town of Anthony, it’s the Harper County courthouse.

Built in 1908, the building has survived torrential rain, hail, ice and everything else Kansas weather can throw at it.

But Harper County Administrator Al Roder, says the courthouse wasn’t built to withstand earthquakes.

Good news though; the county has confirmed that its insurance carrier does cover it for earthquakes.

(Read more: KWCH Top Stories)


Denison council accepts mayor’s resignation, appoints new council members

Denison City Council on Monday night during a special meeting accepted the resignation of Mayor Audrey Oliverius, who faced a voter recall Aug. 5, and also appointed two people to vacant council seats.

“I think it went very well,” said Vickie Wold, who was selected to fill one of the seats. “There were five people who showed up (to be considered for the seat). That’s great.”’

Ed Hindman, who in previous years has served on the city council and as mayor, also was appointed to fill a vacancy.

Council president Bruce Sweany was sworn in as the acting mayor.

(Read more: News)


Kansas lawmakers call out county commissioners over proposed tax increase

Kansas legislators came calling at the Johnson County Commission budget hearing Monday night to tell commissioners they did not care much for being painted as the bad guys in the county’s first mill levy increase in eight years.

Four state lawmakers and the chairman of the Kansas State Banking Board came prepared with a press release and documentation asserting that the state’s phase-out of the mortgage registration fee should not be to blame for the proposed 0.683 mill increase.

“I just want to make sure the public knows this is a sham,” said Kurt Knutson of Overland Park, the banking chairman.

(Read more: Joco 913 News | The Kansas City Star & KansasCity.com)


Southwest Kansas school district defends $100,000 conference as necessary

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The Garden City School District says a recent conference trip, which cost taxpayers more than $100,000, was necessary to become a model school district.

In June, 61 teachers and administrators from USD 457 attended the conference in Florida.

Originally, only 20 people were going to go. But, the district decided to send a teacher from every grade level from each school.

A schoool spokesperson tells us it will help the district meet its five-year goal of being a model school district.

(Read more: KWCH)


Roeland Park has avenues to revisit defeated ordinance — Roberts Rules of Order vs. other rules

In the wake of the defeat of Roeland Park’s anti-discrimination ordinance on a 4-3 vote, a question for some residents is whether that vote is the last word on the fate of the much-debated proposal. Councilor Becky Fast was absent from the meeting when the vote was taken last week and Mayor Joel Marquardt already has declared his support for the ordinance.

Fast did not reveal her intention to vote for or against the ordinance when asked by PVPost.com. If she voted in favor (and no other votes change), Marquardt would break the tie and the ordinance would pass with its required five votes. Or, a councilor from the prevailing side could change a vote to move it forward. Different options appear to exist for bringing the vote back to the table.

The Roeland Park City Council currently operates under Roberts Rules of Order, said City Clerk Debra Mootz, even though a change is in the works to move to Kansas League of Municipalities rules for meetings in the future. Under Roberts, reconsideration of a motion must be made on the day of the vote or the next succeeding day and reconsideration can only be made by a member of the prevailing side.

(Read more: Prairie Village Post)


Former Auburn city clerk enters guilty plea

The former clerk of Auburn on Tuesday pleaded guilty to a federal embezzlement charge and was served by the city in a separate civil suit.

Alice Riley, 61, entered her guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary Sebelius. Her sentencing was set for 10 a.m. Oct. 17 before Chief Judge Thomas Marten.

Riley resigned Feb. 13 amid questions from the Auburn City Council and multiple-year audits into the city’s finances. She had served in the appointed position for 31 years.

The federal government alleges Riley, between 2009 and 2014, embezzled at least $186,000 from Auburn, where she managed payroll and other accounts as the city clerk. Prosecutors say Riley issued duplicate payroll checks to herself, as well as other unauthorized checks she deposited into her own personal accounts. She attempted to cover up the embezzlement by creating false entries in the city’s books and bank statements.

If convicted, Riley faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 in addition to restitution and forfeiture for the amount taken. Preliminary figures show the amount embezzled during those four years was $186,106.45, but a final figure is subject to a financial investigation.

(Read more: News)


Kansas Attorney General Opinion 2014-14: Open carry; transporting firearms in a vehicle; regulation by city or county

Synopsis: Effective July 1, 2014, a law-abiding person may openly carry a rifle, shotgun or other long gun without violating state or municipal laws. However, a person may not openly carry any firearm into a building that is lawfully posted as prohibiting open carry. || Under Kansas law, a person may transport a loaded firearm in a vehicle, regardless of whether the person is licensed to carry a concealed handgun, and regardless of whether the loaded firearm is stored in a container or transported in plain view. Effective July 1, 2014, a city or county may not enforce local laws regulating the transportation of a firearm in a vehicle. || Federal law prohibits a person not licensed to carry a concealed handgun from possessing or transporting a loaded firearm in a school zone, except on private property. However, a Kansas concealed carry licensee may not carry a concealed handgun into any school building posted as prohibiting concealed carry.

(Read more: Kansas Attorney General Opinions)


Former Basehor police chief Vincent Weston leaves long legacy with city

Basehor City Hall employees from 1989 to 2004 remember a stern, structured police chief in Vincent Weston, but one who cracked a smile often and always dedicated his life to public service.

Weston, who served as Basehor police chief for those 15 years, is being remembered by his family and the people of Basehor that he touched this week after his death this month at the age of 68. Weston dedicated a combined 60 years of his life to public service as a police officer and member of the Kickapoo Township Fire Department before retiring from both in 2004 and 2006 respectively.

“We’re very proud of everything he accomplished in his life,” said Weston’s son George Weston, 31.

(Read more: BasehorInfo.com stories)


Kansas Attorney General Opinion 2014-13: Community Colleges—Attachment of Territory

An area that is currently included in a community college district may not be removed or transferred from such district. Territory that may be added to a community college district pursuant to K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 71-1201 is territory that is not already included within the territory of another community college district.

(Read more: Kansas Attorney General Opinions.)


Business soars at Garden City airport

Garden City has offered twice daily flights to Dallas Fort Worth since 2012. This year those flights have been 80% full, with enplanements, or ticketed passengers, up from a few years back.

“We used to struggle to get 10,000 enplanements, and now we’re looking at 26,000 enplanements [for 2014] so we’ve improved quite a bit,” said Airport Director Rochelle Powell.

So why is business picking up?

“It’s very handy to come here to the little regional airport and connect to a bigger airport,” said passenger Lamont Koehn, “you can go anywhere from here.”

(Read more: KSN-TV)


Shawnee County grants rare exception to property frontage access rule

The Shawnee County Commission Monday granted what was thought to be the first waiver it has allowed under an eight-year-old zoning rule that requires access to a property through its street frontage.

Commissioners Bob Archer, Kevin Cook and Shelly Buhler voted 3-0 to grant the waiver to Thomas Schmar for 5.9 acres he owns featuring a pond at the front in the 4500 block of S.W. Auburn Road.

Archer said granting the waiver was “common sense.”

Monday’s discussion involved a home rule resolution the commission adopted in 2006 requiring “that no lot shall be accessed except through its required street frontage with no portion of the driveway extending beyond the boundaries of that lot.”

The rule was designed to help ensure firefighters and ambulance workers find houses where their addresses say they should be, by requiring that the county issue building permits only to owners of properties in which the address matches up with both the property’s frontage and its point of access on a public or private street.

(Read more: News)


Commission Presents Riley County Treasurer With Plaque

29 years of service will finally come to a close for Riley County Treasurer, Eileen King, as she heads into retirement effective August 1st. During Monday’s Riley County Commission meeting, King was presented with a plaque for her service. County Commission Chair, Robert Boyd said a few words, and reflected on how King has shaped the office into a better place.

(Read more: 1350 KMAN)


Opera House In Great Bend to Be Demolished

One wall of the Great Bend Opera House collapsed months ago, now the city is going to take on the cost of tearing the building down.

“Just before the April 21st meeting, we have had no contact with them. They have failed to notify us of anything that they’re going to do or not do on that so they’ve just quit talking to us,” said Building Inspector Lee Schneider.

The city is expecting to have bids to tear down the building by August 15th and says it will take 45 days and could cost one hundred thousand dollars.

The city will send a bill to the owners and they have thirty days to pay it. In the end, Great Bend could try and sell the property.

(Read more: KSN-TV)


Projects flourish at Newton City/County Airport

A large and exciting project for the Newton City/County Airport is nearly completed. Hangar W is a 14,000 square foot community hangar, providing more space for the airport and its clients.
“It will be a great addition to the airport,” said Operations Manager Kevin Timmermeyer.

The new hangar has the largest doors on the airfield: 28-feet high with a 92-foot opening to accommodate larger business jets. Timmermeyer said it was designed to hold planes as large as the Challenger 604 or a regional jet. Depending on their size, it will hold an average of six aircraft.
There are already several interested parties, companies who are prepared to lease the space. Timmermeyer indicated the hangar would be full. What is not leased long-term, will be used for transient aircraft.
Office space occupies 2,000 square feet on the west side to accommodate clients.
County Commissioner Randy Hague called the airport “Harvey County’s best kept secret.”

(Read more: thekansan.com)


Basehor purchases land for future city campus

The City of Basehor finalized the purchase of a 44-acre plot of land this month for the future site of a city campus that would include a new city hall, police station, community center and potentially an Emergency Management Services center.

The city has been saving money for capital improvements and has $1.5 million earmarked for the city campus project which would include a new city hall, community center, police station and potentially an EMS station. The city is currently in contact with Leavenworth County, attempting to provide incentive for a southern Leavenworth County EMS center to be built in Basehor. The city has also suggested the creation of a new city campus trail between the city park, city campus and the community library.

(Read more: BasehorInfo.com stories)


Turbine passes 1 million kilowatt hours of production

After a rough start, the city’s wind turbine is up and running, and producing electricity.
In June, it passed the 1 million kilowatt hours produced mark, said Kurt Bookout, [El Dorado] director of public utilities.

He reviewed the total cost of the project was $2.3 million, with $1.3 of that being grants. To date, since it was erected the expenses have been about $354,000 and income is at $298,000. With the current rate of production, they will be gaining about $12,000 a month on working toward making it pay for itself.

(Read more: butlercountytimesgazette.com)


Survey seeks Barton Co. residents’ input on hazard mitigation plan

Barton County citizens are being asked to help with current hazard mitigation planning efforts by taking a survey that asks for participants’ opinions about hazards, funding and the current Hazard Mitigation Plan.

The plan will be developed as a Regional Jurisdictional Mitigation Plan for Barton County, and will also include Barber, Comanche, Edwards, Kiowa, Pawnee, Pratt and Stafford counties.

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


Hutchinson’s tax rebate not enough to stimulate new home construction

At its current pace, Hutchinson is having the slowest year for new home construction in more than a century.

Only three building permits for single-family homes have been issued this year. That compares with an average of 42.2 single-family housing starts from 2000 to 2013 and 24.8 housing starts since the economic recession began in 2008.

It’s a startling statistic that prompted members of the Hutchinson Housing Commission to agree Wednesday that the city’s New Construction Homebuyer Incentive Program simply isn’t working as well as anybody had hoped.

That incentive, which took effect Jan. 1, 2013, offers a 5-year rebate of 100 percent of the city’s portion of the property taxes, excluding special assessments, on any new single-family home built and sold by Dec. 31, 2014.

But so far, only six homeowners have taken advantage of the program. They received refund checks this week totaling just over $3,000, Housing Program Manager Irene Hart said. Seven others have applications for the rebate program in the works.

Several members of the commission said that the incentive isn’t big enough to tip the balance in favor of building a house for a prospective buyer.

Hart agreed.

“I haven’t heard a single person say that (incentive) led me to build a new house,” she said. “So far this year, there are three building permits for single-family houses. So the housing incentive in place now doesn’t seem to be much of an incentive.”

(Read more: The Hutchinson News)