Kansas Municipal News

In State of the City address, Mayor Brewer calls on Wichitans to help city grow

Wichita stands behind its people, Mayor Carl Brewer said Tuesday night as he renewed his call to action for long-term progress.

In his annual State of the City address, Brewer called on residents to work together to grow the city and help the most vulnerable Wichitans. He touted a year of collaborating to make Wichita a better place to live, including job retention and employment for the homeless.

And he honored former Tuskegee Airman Aldee Miller with the Congressional Gold Medal.

(Read more: Wichita Eagle: News)


Bill would eliminate aid for new school bond issues

“A bill introduced in the Senate education committee would eliminate state aid for school bond issues meant to subsidize costs and even out resources among districts with poorer local tax bases.

Senate vice president Jeff King, R-Independence, introduced the bill Monday. It takes aim at one of the key areas of school finance where the state’s obligations have increased over the past five years. However, it also proposes shifting money that would have been spent on bond aid to another category of school funding that serves an equalization purpose — the state’s long underfunded supplemental general aid payments.”

(Read more: News)


Kansas Day festivities to show off renovated Statehouse

ks-capitol-legislature“The 153rd anniversary of Kansas statehood will be celebrated Wednesday at the Statehouse and the Kansas Museum of History.

Kansas became the 34th state on Jan. 29, 1861.

A dedication ceremony will be at noon in the rotunda of the first floor of the newly restored Capitol. Gov. Sam Brownback and other dignitaries will speak. The Topeka West High School Premier Strings will perform, and cake will be provided by Dillons.”
(Read more: News)


McPherson County forced to replace tasers

The McPherson County Sheriff’s Department will soon be replacing all of its tasers due to a patent lawsuit.
Tazer has sued the maker of the sheriff’s department’s non-lethal weapons, which means they can no longer use them.
The weapons were in need of replacement, so the commission voted to buy 18 new tasers from the Tazer company for $18,069.

(Read more: mcphersonsentinel.com)


McPherson supports new low-, moderate-income housing development with RHIDs

The McPherson City Commission approved a resolution supporting the first housing development that will use its newly created Rural Housing Incentive Districts.
The commission on Monday approved a resolution supporting a housing tax credit application for a new housing development in the Barnstormer’s Field Addition.
… The program intends to use the Rural Housing Incentive District to assist with the development costs.
McPherson has four RHIDs, which were recently approved by the Kansas Department of Commerce. The RHID allows part of the new taxes on a development to be used to pay for infrastructure.

(Read more: mcphersonsentinel.com)


Legislature Proposes Bill to Stop Municipal Fiber Optics

Kansas Senate Bill No. 304 was introduced today (Monday), which will prevent Kansas citizens from choosing whether or not we want to build a Fiber to the Home project. The bill is about Home Rule, local decision making, local choice, and local control. Since incumbent carriers won’t provide Fiber to the Home to Chanute and other rural towns, the City of Chanute believes that it will impact improving education, economic development, health advances, innovation, and energy efficiency.

(Credit for tip: City of Chanute.) Read more about the bill here.


Allegiant to end service at Manhattan Regional in February

Allegiant announced Monday it will ground scheduled flights between Manhattan Regional Airport and the Phoenix area in February.

The announcement comes less than three months after the airline began offering service to and from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport each Sunday and Thursday.

In a news release, the carrier pegged its last day of service as Feb. 23. … Allegiant began service on Nov. 7, 2013, in the Little Apple.

(Read more: Topeka Capital-Journal.)


City and county work through “Why Not Dodge?” differences

dodgecity-logo“Under a looming but flexible deadline to start work on a proposed water park, city and county leaders have been negotiating changes to the joint agreement that governs “Why Not Dodge?” special sales tax projects.
Two-thirds of the joint city and county work group—the mayor, city manager, county chairman and county administrator—started negotiations earlier this month and plan to schedule a joint commission meeting within 30 days. …
While delays through the November and December holiday months have condensed the timeline to open the water park by May 2015, if approved, that opening date is still in sight, Dodge City Manager Cherise Tieben said.

Before a vote on the water park can happen, however, the joint commissions will need to approve changes to the city and county inter-local agreement.

Among the changes, it is likely the Western State Expo Center and Santa Fe Depot will be added as targets for recurring yearly funding through the special tax fund. Though both buildings have received significant amounts of money from the sales tax fund in recent years, this change would formalize the arrangement.”

(Read more: dodgeglobe.com)


Flint Hills Economic Development District Signing

“The Flint Hills Regional Council Board of Directors invites the public to a signing ceremony as the seven county Flint Hills Economic Development District (FHEDD) is formed on January 31, 2014. …
The FHEDD is comprised of Geary, Morris, Riley, Pottawatomie, Wabaunsee, Lyon and Chase counties. The newly formed organization will work to implement a cohesive marketing strategy to promote the region’s tourism and business opportunities…”

(Read more: 1350 KMAN)


Good streets an expensive necessity

From a Basehor newspaper columnist ….

“If there is one common problem shared by cities, counties and states it is providing quality, well-maintained streets and roads.

Most cities are working to upgrade street systems, which are a real challenge due to reduced revenue. What most folks don’t realize is how expensive street work actually can be. According to Kevin Bruemmer, Bonner Springs Public Works director, redoing one mile of a two-lane city street with a width of 22-feet using the recycling in place method costs $15 per square foot, or $193,000. Using the chip-and-seal method costs $25,814. …

There is no doubt that street repairs are a major expense to governmental units. Yet good streets and roads are necessary to modern travel.”

(Read more: BasehorInfo.com stories)


Clay County to light the courthouse red

County Commissioner Mike Spicer said the county can raise taxes and not hear a word from the public about it, but changing the lights on the clock tower put the whole town in an uproar.
Spicer said he’s heard the most about those lights in comments from the public.
Despite all the feedback they’ve heard, county commissioners agreed this morning to light the tower red for Valentines’ Day. Residents can expect to see change take place a few days before Feb. 14.

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


401(k)-style KPERS bill resurfaces

KPERSlogo368“A House member is drafting another bill moving new state hires to a 401(k)-style direct contribution retirement plan rather than the traditional pension system, after such proposals failed to gain traction in each of the last two sessions.
Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee, told the House Pensions and Benefits Committee Monday that he’s working on such a bill, while also noting that it would not apply to current state employees and certain groups of public workers.”

(Read more: News)


Former treasurer of Mayetta fire district pleads guilty to embezzlement

The former treasurer of the Mayetta Rural Fire District No. 1 pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling from the district, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.

In his plea, the defendant agreed to an order that he pay $427,042 in restitution.

Richard P. Bontrager, 67, of Holton, pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement. In his plea, he said that in 2008 he began embezzling from the fire district by issuing checks with the forged signatures of members of the board of the fire district.

(Read more: News)


Internet purchases aid Hutch sales tax collections

amazon-logo“A big jump in Internet purchases helped sustain sales tax collections for November in Hutchinson, while in-store purchases appeared to be down from a year earlier, state tax receipt data shows.

Overall sales tax receipts returned to Hutchinson by the state in January – which were collected on November, pre-Christmas sales – were up over January 2013 receipts by nearly $14,450, or about 1.4 percent.

Collections were also up for Reno County, but only by about $18 or 0.004 of a percent, over a year ago.

For Hutchinson, compensating use tax collections, which are sales taxes collected on Internet and catalog sales, totaled $129,329. That was up more than 50 percent, or almost $43,680, over use tax collections in January 2013, according to figures on the Kansas State Treasurer’s website.”

(Read more: Hutch News)


Group aims to preserve Marysville train depot

“Marysville’s historic Union Pacific depot is again in the spotlight as a local preservation group prepares to ask the Marysville City Council on Monday to acquire the building.

The Marysville Union Pacific Depot Preservation Society has spent the past year negotiating with the railroad and has hired an architect to help with plans to remediate asbestos in the building’s stucco exterior and lead paint inside the 1929 train station.

The U.P. agreed to sell the building and surrounding property for $151,000 but the railroad will only sell to an established entity, such as a local government.

Marysville’s council in the past rejected citizens’ requests to save the building, saying they didn’t want liability. The U.P. said they will demolish the building and attempt to sell the land if no one buys the depot, which was abandoned several years ago.”

(Read more: News)


Road widening may erase Dodge City landmark

“A landmark along the Santa Fe Trail near Dodge City may soon be bulldozed to make way for the widening of a highway.

Kansans today know the Point of Rocks as the hilltop west of Dodge that sports the silhouette of cowboys on horseback.
But for people who lived in the area in the early 19th century, the Point of Rocks area helped mark the international boundary between the United States and Spain, Mexico and Texas until 1845, when it became part of the U.S. territory. It also was a landmark along the Santa Fe and Great Western trails.”

(Read more: Wichita Eagle: News Updates)


City of Leon looks forward to sewage-free spring

April showers bring May flowers to most Kansas communities, but for years in the town of Leon those spring rains brought sewage to front yards. This year residents have something different to look forward to after the completion of a two-year project to upgrade the town’s sewer system.
“Some of the sewer system was originally built in the ’30s and ’40s,” said Shelly Martin, Leon City Commission member. “Back then homes didn’t have dishwashers, multiple toilets and washing machines that held super loads.”
… The city was required by Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to raise rates to be equal to other Kansas communities of similar size as part of the loan Leon received from the government agency and the $500,000 grant the city received from the Kansas Department of Commerce.
“KDHE gave us a $732,000 Kansas Water Pollution Control Revolving,” said Martin. “They made us raise rates in order to show that we could pay back that loan.”

(Read more: butlercountytimesgazette.com)


Derby city manager’s contract extended

Derby City Manager Kathy Sexton will receive an upward 1.9 percent pay adjustment, following approval on Jan. 14 of her amended employment contract by the city council.
The changes are net from an increase in base salary and a decrease in deferred compensation.
… all city employees were eligible for up to the 3.5 percent increase through a 1.5 percent general pay adjustment and a potential increase from a 2 percent merit pool.

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


Hunting is now illegal in Derby again

For just over a month, Derby residents might have been able to hunt inside the city limits legally.
That ended, though, with the Jan. 14 city council meeting. At that time the council approved an amendment to its Uniform Public Offense Code which keeps local ordinances in line with state law and outlaws hunting in the city.
State law now says it is not unlawful to discharge a firearm while hunting ‘unless prohibited by the department of wildlife, parks and tourism or the governing body of the city,’ according to a report by Derby Police Chief Robert Lee. The city did not make it illegal during 2013 updates to the code on Dec. 10.

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


19th century school lands railroaded by bad law

Since statehood in 1861, Kansas has had a history of issues involving the management of school finances.

Seeing the importance of quality education in a democratic society, an act of Congress gave every state land to be used to finance public education.

Kansas, which entered the Union in 1861, received sections 16 and 36 in every township.

Yet, despite the Kansas Constitution granting the land as part of a perpetual school fund, five years later state lawmakers decided to give the land to four railroads.

(Read more: Hutch News)


Wellsville expanding anti-drug effort

A local police department is continuing its push for drug education in schools.

Members of the Wellsville Police Department distributed copies of the 112-page handbook, “Drug Safety: Smart choices for LIFE,” Wednesday along with educational DVDs featuring an interactive quiz to all seventh-grade students at Wellsville Middle School, 602 Walnut St. The handbook and DVD, produced through the organization Community Safety Net, was handed out to about 75 students, Steve Gillespie, Wellsville police chief, said.

(Read more: The Ottawa Herald)


Residents petition for affordable grocery store in former Borders space

A resident-led effort has emerged to attract an affordable, full-service grocery store to the former Borders building downtown.

The site, 700 New Hampshire St., lies at the center of a federally designated food desert, four adjacent northeast Lawrence census tracts with a combination of low-income residents and low access to fresh food.

“We see this as a social justice issue,” said David Crawford, one of a handful of Lawrence residents in the core group behind the Lawrence for Downtown Grocery petition and Facebook page. “We see it as a food access issue.”

(Read more: LJWorld.com stories: Local news)


Derby’s management assistant is new development manager

On Friday, Jan. 17, the city of Derby’s management assistant was named the new development manager – the newly revised position which was formerly economic development director.
Taylour Tedder has been the assistant utilized by the city manager’s department for just over a year. He completed a master of public administration degree from Wichita State University in 2013 and his bachelor’s degree in economics from Emporia State University in 2011.

Due to the resignation this month of Allison Moeding, Derby’s longtime economic development director, the position is changing in scope. The scope of the job is now closely aligned to working with potential business owners in communication and development of those businesses.

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


Threatening email causes police to boost security at Lawrence City Commission meetings

A threatening email to city commissioners has led to at least a temporary increase in security at Lawrence City Hall.

Commissioner Bob Schumm confirmed that multiple commissioners received an email from a community member angry about the proposed rental licensing and inspection program.

“We get called names certainly from time to time, but when they start talking about coming to my property, and when they couple that with the idea that there is a gun somewhere, that is where it crosses the line,” Schumm said.

Shortly after the email was received — about three weeks ago — the commission’s weekly Tuesday evening meetings had obvious signs of increased security.

(Read more: LJWorld.com stories: Local news)


Goddard utilizes new tool to catch red-light runners, cut down on accidents

“After a bad year of car accidents, the city of Goddard is trying something new in hopes of putting a dent in the numbers.

City crews have installed so-called “tattletale” lights on traffic signals. The small blue lights are designed to help police catch drivers who are running red lights.

“This was an easy way we thought we could reduce some of these accident rates,” Goddard Police Chief Sam Houston said.”

(Read more: KAKE – HomePage – Headlines)


Wichita popular with city’s visitors, tourism study finds

gowichita-logo“Wichita’s visitors like the city. They come back more than once, for day trips, to visit family and friends and to enjoy the city’s entertainment culture.

Those are the preliminary conclusions of a year-long visitor profile study by Go Wichita that sought to pinpoint why people come to the city. The survey was distributed to out-of-towners, at spots such as hotels.

The results will form the foundation for the city’s intensifying efforts to bring visitors to town to see a ballgame, hit the River Festival, see a concert, watch a movie, go shopping, eat out and spend a night in a hotel – a $1-billion-a-year business, according to tourism officials.”

(Read more: Wichita Eagle: Top Stories)


Kansas Attorney General Opinion 2014-4: Developing & distributing an explanatory statement on a question submitted to the electorate

vote-button“Synopsis: The governing body of a municipality, such as a city, county, or unified school district, may develop a neutral or impartial explanatory statement on a question it has submitted to the electorate. The explanatory statement may be posted on the municipality’s website and provided to constituents at the office of the county election officer, until such time as the office of the county election officer becomes a polling place. Whether a city may provide for the posting at polling places and the distribution at polling places or with advance voting ballots of explanatory statements regarding a question that is submitted to the electorate cannot be definitively determined. A county, a local board of education and other municipalities lack authority to provide for the posting and distribution of such a statement at polling places and with advance voting ballots.”

(Read more: Kansas Attorney General Opinions)


Hutch City Manager John Deardoff presented a mixed bag of progress in state of the city address

City Manager John Deardoff presented a mixed bag of progress, continuing concerns and a challenging agenda for 2014 in his third annual state of the city address to guests of Hutchinson AMBUCS and the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday at the Stringer Fine Arts Center.

On the upside, work has begun on renovating the long-vacant Wiley Building into 73 downtown apartments and two floors of retail space.

On the downside, Sears announced that it was closing its store at the Hutchinson Mall. It will be the second major store to close at the Mall in a year. The mall once made Hutchinson a regional retail hub, Deardoff said, but that’s gone and has been for some time.

(Read more: Hutch News)