Kansas Municipal News

Wichita Police Department still drafting body cam policy

Body cameras will soon be a fixture for all officers in Wichita but, how those cameras will be used and when is something the police department is trying to create a policy on.

“We’re not going to rush our policy. we’re reviewing drafts. we are looking at other policies throughout the country,” WPD Interim Chief, Nelson Mosley.

Some of the issues that came up at the meeting over body cams:
-What types of encounters should be recorded?
-Privacy vs. Transparency. Sharing video with other law agencies.
-When do body cams need to be turned on?

(Read more: KAKE – HomePage – Headlines)


Governor appoints new Saline County commissioners

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback on Thursday named two individuals to seats on the Saline County Commission effective Jan. 12, 2015.

Luci Larson will fill the District 4 seat and David Smith is appointed to District 5.

Voters in Saline County approved expansion of the county commission from three seats to five in the Nov. 4 election. This triggered a statute that requires the Governor to appoint individuals to these newly created seats within 30 days of certification of the new districts. The commissioners will then stand for election in two years.

(Read more: KAKE – HomePage – Headlines)


Kansas Attorney General Opinion 2014-21: City sales tax to fund a college

Synopsis: A city may levy a retailers’ sales tax for the purpose of providing funds to a technical college if doing so serves a valid public purpose. If the electors of a city, by voting to approve a proposed sales tax, determine that providing funds to a technical college serves a valid public purpose, a court would likely defer to that judgment. Cited herein: K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 12-187; K.S.A. 72-4469; 72-4475.

(Read more: Kansas Attorney General Opinions)


State extends deadline for SE Kansas casino

The Kansas Lottery Commission has extended the deadline for submitting applications to become the casino manager in the Southeast Kansas Gaming Zone to Jan. 30.
Kansas began taking bids in July for a state-owned casino in the southeast zone, which includes Cherokee and Crawford counties. The original deadline was 1 p.m. Friday.
Executive Director Terry Presta said in a statement that when the original date was established, the commission discussed the possibility it would need to be moved.
“In an effort to give the recently appointed review board members ample time to come up to speed on their important duties, the lottery and the lottery commission thought it prudent to move the application date at this time,” she said in the statement.

(Read more: Joplin Globe)


Pleasant Township resident offers resolution to issues

The issue of Pleasant Township came before the Butler County Commission again Tuesday morning.
LaDonna Johnson, a resident in the township, spoke to the commission about her proposed solution to the issues they are having.
“I am going to put forth the problems,” she said.
“We know what the problems are,” Commission Chair Mike Wheeler said.
She said there was ouster proceedings they could take.
“I recommend Darrin Devinney (county attorney) look at this, go through this,” she said. “If he needs more evidence I can get it for him.

(Read more: Butler County Times Gazette)


Derby water rates could hit a three-year 25 percent increase

Water rates in Derby will increase almost 10 percent in January, as the city of Wichita works to bring commercial and residential rates in line.
While the increase is significant on its own, it follows a nearly 9 percent increase in 2014 and comes before a projected 7.5 percent increase for 2016.
Over a three-year period, which includes Wichita’s 7.5 percent projected increase in 2016, Derby residents could see a nearly 25 percent rate increase from 2014 through 2016.

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


Hays officials set record straight on mailings to residents

A recent mailing to some homeowners in Hays has city officials speaking out to ensure residents know the item wasn’t sent from the city.

Area homeowners received an advertising flyer in the mail last week from HomeServe USA Repair Management Corps that says, “Important information regarding your water service line.”

HomeServe is selling insurance.

At last week’s city commission meeting, City Attorney John Bird wanted to let community members know it did not come from the city.

(Read more: The Hays Daily News)


Code changes to permit chickens in Gardner backyards

Gardner City Council members approved amendments to the zoning code that will allow residents to have vegetable gardens and to keep chickens. The new regulations will allow Gardner residents to own up to one fowl or rabbit per 1,000 square-feet of lot area. No more than 15 fowl or rabbit or other animals of similar size will be allowed. Residents must seek approval from the business and economic development director or a designee before putting chickens on a city lot. Council member Heath Freeman said the amendment would allow up to seven chickens on the average-sized Gardner lot of 7,500 to 8,000 square feet.

(Read more: Gardner News)


Fed Sets Stage for Rate Hikes in 2015

The Federal Reserve took a delicate step toward raising short-term interest rates in 2015, but at the same time exposed its skittishness about signaling a historic move away from easy-money policies in place since the global financial crisis.

In a statement Wednesday after a two-day policy meeting, the Fed broached the prospect of “beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy,” the most direct formal reference to raising rates it has made in years.

Rates have been held near zero since December 2008 and since then the Fed has offered assurances that they would stay low amid low inflation and elevated levels of unemployment. The new statement said the Fed would be “patient” before raising rates, adding that the overall outlook hadn’t much changed from earlier assurances that rates would stay low for a “considerable time.”

Read more: Wall Street Journal.


Power supplier switch saves Garden City millions

Switching power suppliers last year resulted in a $4 million savings in wholesale power costs for Garden City’s electric utility in 2014, and could mean a small decrease for the city’s rate-payers in the future.

The Kansas Municipal Energy Agency began supplying electricity to Garden City on Jan. 1. The city had decided roughly a year earlier to end its power supply contract with Wheatland Electric Cooperative due to concerns about future rate increases proposed by the company.

Mike Muirhead, public utilities director, said the city paid Wheatland $23,290,245 in 2013. The estimated total cost to the city for the first year of its association with KMEA is $19.2 million, which includes all costs for procuring the power supply, administrative charges, transmission service, Wheatland’s facility charge and costs to operate the Jameson Energy Center.

Read more: Garden City Telegram.


Marion mayor unwittingly breaks ATV law, wants it re-written

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt was the first to register his all-purpose vehicle for use on city streets — and when he crossed the Main St. bridge while driving it to work Thursday, he unknowingly became perhaps the first to break the new ATV law.
The only way across Luta Creek is Main St., but since Main St. is a state highway, ATVs are prohibited on it.

Heitschmidt said city officials spent between four and six months crafting multiple revisions of the ordinance. His misunderstanding of what the final ordinance allowed stemmed from previous versions that sought to allow all ATVs access over the creek, he said.

(Read more: PEABODY Gazette-Bulletin)


Hillsboro council raises Peabody’s water rates

Hillsboro supplies water to Peabody, and on Tuesday the Hillsboro city council approved a rate increase for Peabody, effective for 2015.
The cost per thousand gallons of water will rise from $1.48 to $1.85.

Hillsboro projects a 2 percent increase in revenue from the sale of water to Peabody, from $70,000 in 2014 to $71,400 in 2015.
The Peabody city council agreed to the rate increase back in April, [Hillsboro city administrator Larry] Paine said. Alerting Peabody officials earlier in the year allowed them to adjust their upcoming budgets, Paine said.

(Read more: PEABODY Gazette-Bulletin)


Rural Towns Get Housing Through Grants

Lack of housing can hurt rural communities who are trying to grow, but legislation passed in 2012 is now helping rural communities build moderate income housing.

The city of Larned is the latest to use grant money to build new houses.

For this project, it took $400,000.

In order to grow our community and attract more people here, housing was probably on the top of the list,” said Charles Spina the housing administrator for the City of Larned.

Twenty-six communities in Kansas have received a collective $6.3 dollars in grants since 2012 from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation, including Garden City, Stockton, and Lyons.

(Read more: KSN-TV)


Wastewater plant reconstruction will use new contract process

The city of Hays wants to use a new process called “Design Build Owner’s Representative” for reconstruction of the wastewater treatment plant, 1498 E. Highway 40 Bypass.

According to Assistant Hays City Manager Paul Briseno, the proposed change in process is “entirely different from what’s been used in the past” by the city.

“The designer, engineer and construction firm all work together at the same time, all under one contract rather than separate contracts as we’ve done in the past. Having separate contracts often leads to finger-pointing whenever there is a design flaw or construction flaw. With this process, it’s one entity we’re dealing with–one designer, one contractor–working together cohesively with (city) operations to get the project completed.”

(Read more: Hays Post)


What sealed the deal for Larned landing Taco Bell?

Last week the City of Larned made the news official that they will be getting a Taco Bell to come to town. …
Pawnee County Economic Development Director Lauren Long said conversations about Taco Bell coming to Larned started a long time ago.

Long mentioned one of the factors that impressed the Taco Bell management into bringing a restaurant to Larned.
[see audio recording]

Showing that the community, despite being a rural area, was doing well and expanding helped sell Larned to Taco Bell.

(Read more: Great Bend Post)


Budget muddies plight to fix Marion County roads

Waterlogged gravel roads in Marion County soaked up more rain over the weekend, ensuring at least several more days of sloppy road conditions.
County road and bridge supervisor Randy Crawford is as frustrated as anyone else, as the extra rain is another delay as he tries to keep up with 745 miles of soft and muddy roads.

Crawford is at the mercy of two factors — the weather, which he can’t control, and money, which he doesn’t have enough of.
“It takes 1,000 tons of gravel per mile, at $10 per ton,” Crawford said. That’s $10,000 per mile, not counting fuel and labor costs.
There is $98,000 remaining in the gravel budget for December, barely enough to take care of 10 of the 745 graveled miles.

(Read more: Marion County RECORD)


Hillsboro P.D. to Tabor students: Return junky wheelbarrow

Hillsboro Police advised two Tabor College students to return a “junky wheelbarrow” they allegedly plucked from a scrap metal pile on the corner of Ash and Grand Sts. Dec. 10 while on their way to do laundry.
Assistant Chief Jessey Hiebert … described them as educated kids that hailed from larger urban cities who said they had never had any contact with law enforcement in their previous 18 years of life.

Hiebert said the students were dumbfounded. They told him “the cops are everywhere in Hillsboro.”

(Read more: Marion County RECORD)


New report attempts to compare costs of Rock Chalk Park with other city projects

Lawrence officials have shed more light on how they have evaluated whether taxpayers got a good deal on about $11 million worth of infrastructure work at Rock Chalk Park that did not go through the city’s normal bid process.
The new report paints a mixed picture, with some costs coming in below similar work elsewhere in the city that was bid, and other costs at Rock Chalk Park significantly higher. But Chuck Soules, the city’s director of public works, said the numbers give him confidence the city was charged a fair price for the work.

(Read more: LJWorld.com stories)


Salina Journal hires attorney to pursue names of county commission candidates

Salina Journal Editor and Publisher M. Olaf Frandsen said Tuesday the newspaper has retained counsel and is evaluating the next step to be taken after the communications director for the governor’s office refused again late Monday to publicly release the applications or even the names of candidates seeking the two newly created positions on the Saline County Commission.

Eileen Hawley, press secretary for Gov. Sam Brownback, has refused one verbal and two written requests from the Journal for information about the candidates. She cited a provision of the Kansas Open Records Act stating that public agencies are not required to disclose “personnel records, performance ratings or individually identifiable records pertaining to employees or applicants for employment … .”

(Read more: Salina Journal)


Derby looks at regulating where you can light up electronically

There are very few laws in the state of Kansas regulating the use of electronic cigarettes, but that is changing as cities and counties look at making their own local ordinances. Now Derby is looking at regulating where you can light up electronically, even if it is only vapor you are inhaling.

“I don’t feel the regulations are needed, but I do see how the public outcry is calling for them,” said Byron McNary, owner of McVapour E-Cigs and Novelties in Derby and president of the Kansas Vapers Association. “The regular person seeing someone in a restaurant blowing a big cloud of vapor, it looks like a big cloud of smoke to them.”

Read more: Derby Informer.


Chanute fiber plan approved by KCC

The City of Chanute’s plans to extend its network of high-speed internet fiber passed a major hurdle on Tuesday morning, as it was officially approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission at a public hearing in Topeka. Commissioners Shari Albrecht and Pat Apple voted 2-0 to approve the plan, after being presented with a recommendation of approval from the KCC staff.
AT&T initially intervened in Chanute’s seeking of KCC approval, which attracted the attention of several nationwide websites devoted to technology. At Tuesday’s hearing, there were ultimately no objections raised to the KCC staff’s recommendation of Chanute’s plan.
The city’s interim Chief Financial Officer Rick Willis and Utilities Director Larry Gates were present at the hearing, and both said they were pleased with the decision made by commissioners.

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


Reno County considers eliminating property plat review

The Reno County Commission will take up a recommendation next week to eliminate most requirements – and related costs – for the county to review property plat surveys.

Acting on a request by Com-missioner Dan Deming, who wanted to recover costs to the county for performing the reviews, Public Works Director Dave McComb made a few discoveries while researching the law and getting the opinions of professional surveyors in the county.

First, the law no longer requires counties to review plat surveys when involving single lot splits, or the creation of new plots carved out of existing plats, thanks to a 2011 legislative amendment, McComb found.

“There’s a difference of opinion (among surveyors) on the importance” of the reviews, McComb said, “but all are in consensus they’re not required.”

The law still requires a review of surveys on subdivision plats – those involving subdivision of more than a single lot – as well as townhomes and condominiums, though it’s not required that the county perform the review, McComb said.

(Read more: The Hutchinson News)


Former Hutch police officer loses appeal before city council

Despite pleas from former fellow officers, friends and family, the Hutchinson City Council stuck with City Manager John Deardoff’’s recommendation and upheld the termination of former Hutchinson police officer Lorenzo Bohringer.

Bohringer was dismissed from the force for lying during an internal investigation into a complaint against a fellow officer.

(Read more: Hays Post)


Two Augusta council members call for hotel renegotiation

After an otherwise quiet meeting, two Augusta City Councilors dropped a bombshell that they want to renegotiate a contract with a hotel developer who is helping bring a Comfort Inn and Suites to the city.
The governing body is in the final stages of approving a developer’s agreement that will provide tax rebates and other incentives to the developer in order to pave the way to profitability for the project….
[Council member Matt] Malone … wanted to throw out the current agreement and start over.
“The gentleman who negotiated that deal with the developer resigned after a short stint,” Malone said. “It might be wise to reopen those discussions.”
Malone didn’t question whether the developer negotiated in good faith or the quality of the project. He said he was offended by comments he has heard the developer said.
“I want to renegotiate the whole thing because Mr. (Raju) Sheth has said working with the City of Augusta is like taking candy from a baby,” Malone said. “That should be embarrassing.”

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


Shawnee residents file lawsuit to stop sewer project near Maurer Road

Two residents along Bell Road have filed a law suit in district court to stop a county commission approved sewer line near the southwest corner of Maurer Road and Shawnee Mission Parkway.

Richard and Phyllis Travers filed the suit on Dec. 5 in Johnson County District Court and argue that they, along with the other residents in the area, fear the new sewer line will destroy hundreds of mature trees and the habitat for wildlife. They also raise concerns about whether the county followed correct procedures in approving the sewer district.

(Read more: The Dispatch stories)


Overland Park council approves public financing step for project at I-435 and Antioch

In the face of heavy protest, Overland Park took a significant step forward in a process that could ultimately result in a massive $2.4 billion mixed-use development proposed for Antioch Road and Interstate 435.

After a three-hour discussion at its meeting Monday evening, the city council approved ordinances allowing the creation of a redevelopment district and a STAR Bond Project District for the area.

Curtin Property Co. intends to turn the former location of Brookridge Golf and Fitness into an urban-style development featuring office, retail, hotel and living space. ….According to preliminary cost estimates, Curtin Property, Co. could ask for $130 million in STAR bonds and $307 million from a tax-increment financing district.

(Read more: Kansas City Star & KansasCity.com)


Grand jury empaneled to investigate Galena

A grand jury has been empaneled to investigate actions taken by members of the Galena City Council. Judge Oliver K. Lynch approved the grand jury investigation on Oct. 27. Few details about the progress of the case are being released at the moment, but the Cherokee County District Court has confirmed the jury has been empaneled.
“I have no knowledge of what’s really going on,” said Galena Mayor Oglesby.

“I’m kind of mystified honestly, because the landfill isn’t even being mentioned in it,” said Oglesby. “They had this petition circling around saying ‘sign here to stop the landfill’ and now it’s not about the landfill at all, maybe the grand jury should look into that instead.”

(Read more: Cherokee Co. News-Advocate – news,news/)


Harvey County Sheriff’s Office explores purchasing body cameras

As many law enforcement agencies throughout the country explore buying body cameras for their officers, Harvey County Sheriff’s Office is looking into it as well. The problem is they don’t have the budget for it.

“In our instance it would take us probably around $75,000 dollars initially to start,” Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said.

They’ve brought it up with the county commission and looked at options to fund these cams.

(Read more: KAKE – HomePage – Headlines)


Clay County waives landfill fees for shelter renovation

The Clay County Animal and Rescue Education Center (CCARE) received a little help from the county in a request that was granted by county commissioners Monday morning.
CCARE volunteers Janel Michaud and Sandy Fox asked the commission to abate taxes and waive landfill fees on the building at Fourth and Harriet that the organization will remodel as an animal shelter.

(Read more: Clay Center Dispatch On-Line – news,news/)