Kansas Municipal News

Budreau stepping down; gives 90 days to find new Chanute city manager

Chanute Interim City Manager Sam Budreau will be stepping down for good from the position on Feb. 27, 2015, which places that date as a deadline by which a new permanent city manager will have to be found. Budreau made this announcement to Chanute City Commissioners during an executive session at Monday night’s meeting at the Memorial Building, giving the city a 90-day notice of his intentions.
It was announced that Budreau will be taking a job in the HR department of an unspecified local company.
“I have every intention to continue to assist you during this time period to select a new city manager,” Budreau said, in a statement released after the executive session, “as well as provide day-to-day oversight of operations.”
It was announced by Budreau at the meeting that the city is due to start sifting on Dec. 8 through the 36 resumes it has received from applicants for the open City Manager position.

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


Reno County will apparently keep weekly meetings, but pay still in question

Tuesday’s discussion on a proposal by Reno County Commissioner Dan Deming to cut commission meetings to twice a month and commission salaries by a third indicated the board will continue to meet weekly.

The salary issue, however – at least for another week – remains open.

“It would be logical to compare ourselves with other counties, particularly to those that are similar in terms of budget, population and administration,” [Commission Chairman James] Schlickau stated. “In fact I would consider that a ‘no-brainer.’ ”

Twenty of the 22 counties which Deming listed that meet only twice a week, however, Schlickau noted, have a population of less than 8,000, and the other two, Ford and Seward counties, are close to half Reno County’s.

Of the counties that meet three times a month, only Wyandotte County has a population greater than Reno County, but it “uses a different government structure,” Schlickau stated. The population range of the rest is from 37,161 people in Finney County to 1,271 in Greeley County.

“There is no evidence reducing meeting frequency will reduce staff time,” he stated. “The volume of material compilation, research and preparation time remains the same. In fact, if purchasing cards are used to pay time-sensitive bills, it may require additional oversight compared to the board approving vouchers prior to their payment.”

“It is convenient for staff, and the public, to know that any matter can be decided in seven days or less if necessary. Limiting our ability by reducing meeting frequency delays action,” Schlickau stated. Areas that could see delays, he contended, include paying bills, meeting legal notice requirements, platting and zoning decisions, and personnel and legal issues.

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


Wichita Councilmember Lavonta Williams Receives Women in Municipal Government Leadership Award

Councilmember Lavonta Williams of Wichita, Kan. was selected as the 2014 recipient of the Women in Municipal Government (WIMG) Leadership Award at the group’s luncheon and membership meeting Friday, Nov. 21, at the National League of Cities (NLC) Congress of Cities in Austin, Texas. WIMG, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2014, presents the annual award to female elected officials who show unique and outstanding leadership in local government, and who serve as mentors for future female leaders.

Williams was appointed to the Wichita City Council in 2007, and was elected by her district in 2009. She is the first woman elected from her district and the first African American woman serving in the vice mayor position. Prior to her time in office, Williams spent 35 years as a classroom educator and afterschool program director in for the Wichita Public Schools.

(Read more: RSS Feed)


Salina neighborhood says no to putting up a new cell tower

Cell phone towers are a familiar sight in Kansas, but some who live here want to keep them out.

Donald Kaiden shows what communication company "Ideatek" wanted to put up his neighborhood.

"it’s something we would rather not have in our neighborhood."

Kaiden shows a drawing of a 34-foot wooden tower which would’ve been placed in a vacant lot at the entrance of the community.

…Neighbors gathered signatures for a petition saying they were worried about safety with a project that wouldn’t benefit them.    

(Read more: Top Stories)


Move to bring faster clearing of snow from residential, secondary streets

Faster clearing of residential and secondary streets after heavy snowfalls.

That’s what Topekans should see from a new arrangement the city is putting in place, city public works director Doug Whitacre said Tuesday evening.

Whitacre told the Topeka City Council that city crews have historically cleared snow first from major thoroughfares, then from secondary and residential streets — and will continue to follow that process when less than 6 inches falls.

(Read more: News)


Kansas Attorney General Opinion 2014-18: Publicly Owned Motor Vehicles—Private Use Forbidden

Automobiles and Other Vehicles—Publicly Owned Motor Vehicles—Private Use Forbidden

Synopsis: A vehicle is “publicly owned” for purposes of K.S.A. 8-301 if it is owned by a governmental entity, even if the governmental entity used private donations to purchase the vehicle.
With the repeal of K.S.A. 8-307 in 1995, a violation of K.S.A. 8-301 is not a crime in itself, but some violations of K.S.A. 8-301 may constitute the crime of official misconduct under K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 21-6002(a)(1).

(Read more: Kansas Attorney General Opinions)


City updates body camera progress for Wichita

Earlier this month city leaders laid out a timeline to get every Wichita police officer equipped with a body camera by the end of 2015. Part of that timeline included at November 30th deadline for city leaders to figure out where they’ll get an estimated $1.5 million to pay for the project.

On Tuesday Mayor Carl Brewer said the city may not get those answers by the end of the month.

(Read more: Top Stories)


Roeland Park residents create ‘R Park’ from the ground up

The master plan for R Park, located at 55th Terrace and Juniper Drive in Roeland Park, has been on the shelf for years, but a group of citizens has banded together to change that — and it’s succeeding.

Leading the group is Roland Park resident Gretchen Davis.

“About a decade ago, many citizens spoke to the city council and … said you have got to keep this a green space,” Davis said. “(This) February, my husband and I were talking about that process, and we wondered when in the world the park was ever going to have its master plan realized.”

After looking into the matter, Davis found that the problem standing in the way was a financial one.

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


Township officials express concerns with Topeka’s growth plan

Monday’s meeting with township officials about Topeka’s proposed Land Use and Growth Management Plan became tense at times, with people expressing concern and outrage with the annexation plans and limiting factors the proposed plan would have on properties outside the city limits.

However, city planning director Bill Fiander was able to quell most concerns and help the audience come to a better understanding of the changes. He said the meeting was the first step toward helping people better understand how the changes would affect them.

(Read more: News)


Newspaper editorial: Public experience matters in county manager

It could be beneficial if the next Sedgwick County manager had a private-sector background, but it should be a requirement that the person have experience leading a large government. That is, after all, what the job entails.

County commissioners Karl Peterjohn and Richard Ranzau suggested last week that government experience was optional for the person hired to replace County Manager William Buchanan, who is retiring next June.

“I think having experience running inefficient government operations is not a plus in the candidate as far as I’m concerned,” Ranzau said. “I want someone who can compete in the private sector.”

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


Muncipal Christmas Tree tradition spans 100 years

The cities are continuing a long national tradition of tree lighting ceremonies dating back to the 1980s. Bonner Springs held the ceremony for years at Kelly Murphy Park before the trees got too big. Edwardsville has conducted the lighting in the city hall-fire station area. One of the early traditions in Bonner Springs was the lighting of luminaries on Christmas Eve along curbs in various neighborhoods….

The advances in electricity and lighting led to the first national lighting ceremony held at the White House on Dec. 24, 1923. …

The first municipal Christmas trees were in both New York City and Boston in 1912. Bonner Springs and Edwardsville have held ceremonies for at least 20 or 30 years.

(Read more: BasehorInfo.com stories)


School-funding suit complicates Kansas budget fix

Even before state courts decide whether Kansas spends enough money on its public schools, a lawsuit over education funding is complicating efforts by legislators and Gov. Sam Brownback to close the state’s projected budget shortfalls.

…the case is affecting state officials’ thinking as they wrestle with predicted budget shortfalls totaling more than $714 million for the current budget year and the one beginning in July. Aid to public schools is the biggest item in the state’s annual budget, and many legislators are wary of cutting it, particularly dollars for classrooms, with the lawsuit pending.

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


Man gets two years in federal prison for threats to water supply in Wichita, Topeka, other cities

A man who called police about threats to contaminate the water supplies of Kansas City and other cities was sentenced Monday to two years in federal prison.

Manuel Garcia, 70, had previously been sent to prison for making a bomb threat against the federal courthouse in Kansas City.

In October 2013, Garcia called Kansas City police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Washington, claiming that the water supplies in Kansas City, St. Louis, Wichita and Topeka would be contaminated in the next 10 to 15 days.

As a precaution, Kansas City police increased helicopter surveillance around water treatment plants for two weeks and assigned snipers and extra patrol teams. Similar responses occurred in the other threatened cities.

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


Some Wichita city leaders say “do not touch” highway fund

Wichita city leaders meet for a workshop this week, and they have a message for lawmakers to leave the highway fund alone.

“Let’s be careful about whacking something (highway funds) that might have an impact that might hurt the state overall,” says Wichita City Council member Pete Meitzner. “My hope is they are going to have to re-prioritize projects.”

Meitzner says the expansion along Kellogg on the east side of Wichita could be delayed, if state lawmakers decide to pull monies from the highway fund to help balance the budget.

Kansas, in the current budget year, is behind to the tune of $280 million. Some say that figure could grow.

(Read more: KSN-TV)


Shawnee’s Bell Road residents plan to continue sewer fight

Homeowners on Shawnee’s Bell Road lost the battle against a sewer system that will destroy hundreds of trees. But they are determined to keep fighting a development that they say will ruin wildlife habitat and the wooded character of the neighborhood.
The latest battleground is Shawnee City Council, which is trying to move quickly to secure a deal to develop about 26 acres on the southwest corner of Maurer Road and Shawnee Mission Parkway.
The city was successful Thursday in getting approval from the county for a sewer line that would run along a wooded creek and was fervently opposed by Bell Road residents. Residents along the creek say they don’t oppose the development itself, but would like the city and county to consider a different route for the sewer line that serves it.

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


Olathe looks at e-cigarettes

The Olathe City Council is considering adding electronic cigarettes to the city’s smoking ban.
At its meeting Tuesday evening, the council attempted to include e-cigarettes in the city’s Indoor Clean Air Ordinance, meaning the devices would be prohibited from being used in public places.
E-cigarettes are electronic or battery-powered vaporizers that simulate tobacco smoking.
The council voted 3-2 to make the inclusion. Later in the meeting, however, city staff informed the council that the change actually required at least four yes votes to be valid.

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


Shawnee County to issue deputies unilateral contact

For the second time in less than a year, Shawnee County and its rank-and-file sheriff’s deputies are at impasse in contract talks.

Shawnee County Commissioners Bob Archer, Kevin Cook and Shelly Buhler, who are preparing to issue a unilateral 2015 contract between the county and those deputies, heard testimony Monday from county human resources director Jon Thummel and attorney Clint Patty, who represents the Fraternal Order of Police.

The FOP represents tje 85 rank-and-file sheriff’s officers with the rank of sergeant and below in contract negotiations. Those deputies currently are paid between $16.54 an hour an $28.21 an hour.

The last time the county and the FOP reached impasse in contract talks was earlier this year. Commissioners voted March 10 to issue a unilateral 2014 contract containing no pay raises.

(Read more: News)


Residents offer suggestions on Gardner’s capital improvement proposal

Several citizens asked questions and commented on the city’s proposed 2014-2019 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), during a Nov. 17 city council work session. In a warm-up to the quasi-interactive work session, David Warm, executive director of the Mid-America Regional Council, explained that a CIP is simply a plan for investing in capital improvements over time. “The stakes are just really high,” Warm told the council. “Capital stuff is really expensive and it lasts a long time.” Warm said the implementation of a capital project typically requires a long lead time. A CIP helps city officials pace large projects out so they city can stay ahead of the game in the long haul.

(Read more: Gardner News)


Augusta wastewater project 46% under budget

It is rare a city feels good about spending $160,000 on its wastewater treatment plant. But when the project was expected to cost $300,000, that price sounds a lot better.
The difference in the actual cost to replace the automatic mechanical bar screen at the wastewater treatment plant and the estimate raised red flags for Councilor Sue Jones.
“How are we 46 percent under budget?” Jones asked. “It is lovely, but it is concerning that we were so far off.”
Willis Wilson with Aquatech said he did the estimate.
“When you ask people to do renovation work inside an existing facility and it is dirty work, you elevate estimates,” Wilson said.

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


Abilene to rebuild historic theater destroyed by fire

Maggie Hoffman admitted she got choked up as she saw the scorched and gutted Great Plains Theatre building being demolished Wednesday.

The historic former church building had housed Great Plains Theatre, a professional Equity theater, for the past 20 years before it was destroyed by fire destroyed July 23.

Hoffman had been executive director for only a few months when the building burned, the result of a lightning strike from a summer storm. But she said the theater had been a part of her life since she was a child.

Hoffman said plans are in the works to build a new Great Plains Theatre facility. The original building was a historic landmark built in 1883, but the new facility probably will be a more modern structure.

It could take three to five years to build a new facility, she said, but no firm date has been set for its completion.

(Read more: Salina Journal)


Plan to build $130 million dollar casino to unveiled for SE Kansas

Representatives of Castle Rock Casino Resort today announced plans to build a premiere, Las Vegas-style casino resort in Cherokee County.Castle Rock Casino Map

The casino will be located less than one mile north of I-44 directly on US400. The casino is designed to attract people from Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

A press conference will be held in Wichita at 3:30 p.m. at the Signature Flight Support at Mid-Continent Airport announcing the plans. It will feature the returning team that unveiled plans at that morning’s meeting of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners in Columbus.

(Read more: KSN-TV)


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)


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)


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)


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/)


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)


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/)


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)


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/)