Kansas Municipal News

SEC Enforcement Division Modifies Municipalities Disclosure Initiative

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced modifications to its Enforcement Division’s Municipalities Continuing Disclosure Cooperation (MCDC) Initiative that will provide greater opportunity for smaller municipal securities underwriter firms and municipal issuers to take advantage of the initiative. 

To allow issuers and obligors more time to complete their reporting requirements, the division has extended the deadline to self-report potential violations from September 10, 2014 to December 1, 2014.  The deadline for underwriters remains unchanged at September 10, 2014.  With respect to underwriters, the division has determined that to implement a tiered approach to civil penalties based on the size of the firm would encourage smaller underwriters to participate in the initiative.

Since announcing the initiative, the division has learned that some municipal underwriters and issuers have experienced difficulties in identifying potential violations for periods when filings were made in the Nationally Recognized Municipal Securities Information Repository (NRMSIR) system, which pre-dated the Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) system.  The division recognizes that parties may use reasonably available sources of information to make good faith efforts to identify potential violations but may not be able to identify certain violations during the period of the initiative due to the limitations of the pre-EMMA NRMSIR system.  If violations are identified by the division after the expiration of the initiative, the division will consider reasonable, good faith, and documented efforts in deciding whether to recommend enforcement action and, to the extent enforcement action is recommended, in determining relief. 

Questions regarding the initiative may be directed to Larry Kleeman at larry@citycode.com or call 316.685.5911.

(Read more: Press Releases)


Abilene loses a treasure when fire destroys historic Great Plains Theatre

On the morning of July 23, Maggie Hoffman expressed optimism to her staff.

The new executive director of the Great Plains Theatre had been on the job for two months. Progress had been made paying off the theater’s building loan; there had been a recent uptick in tickets sold.

“Everyone knows we had financial difficulty in the past,” Hoffman said this week.

“We were getting on track, and things were going really well. I even made a comment: ‘Guys, I think we are really making progress.’ Our assistant director knocked on wood.”

Less than 10 hours later, Hoffman stood on the lawn watching fire gut the Great Plains Theatre building.

The building, a renovated Gothic Romanesque limestone church that had ties to the beginnings of Abilene, was destroyed along with its contents.

(Read more: Wichita Eagle: News Updates)


DUI driver’s suit against city, county dismissed

A federal judge this week threw out a Missouri man’s lawsuit alleging official misconduct by the city of Topeka and Shawnee County.

The allegations were linked to a case in which Sean Buchanan — of Orrick in Ray County in northwest Missouri — had been convicted here of driving under the influence.

U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren noted in the ruling made Wednesday that Buchanan alleged police and prosecutors engaged in an elaborate conspiracy that violated his Constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial.

(Read more: News)


Auburn seeking more than $200,000 in civil suit filed against former city clerk

he city of Auburn is seeking more than $200,000 in a civil lawsuit filed against a former city clerk who pleaded guilty to a federal embezzlement charge.

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

Riley on Tuesday also was served by the city in the separate civil lawsuit.

The civil petition, filed July 23 in Shawnee County District Court, includes counts of breach of fiducial duty, fraud and embezzlement, conversion and/or larceny.

The city of Auburn is asking for $196,000, representing the amount stolen and reimbursement in excess of $20,000 for the cost of investigation to determine the amount of the theft.

(Read more: News)


Andover changes rules of vehicles ‘for sale’ on private property

In spite of some disagreement and following considerable discussion, the Andover City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday evening prohibiting the display of vehicles marked “for sale” on private property without permission of the property owner.
Police Chief Mike Keller explained that, prior to this ordinance, property owners had no recourse when vehicles were parked on private property with “for sale” signs. A property owner would need to have a vehicle towed at the property owner’s expense.
Council Member Byron Stout asked if the Police Department currently gets many complaints from property owners. Keller answered the Police Department does not. However, he speculated perhaps there aren’t many complains since there is nothing the Police Department could do, prior to this ordinance.

(Read more: butlercountytimesgazette.com)


County Attorney discusses spring city election; seeks Attorney General opinion

Neosho County Attorney Linus Thuston informed the Chanute City Commission at Monday’s meeting that four city commission seats will be up for grabs in the spring election. Generally it’s just three but because of the appointment after a resignation, four seats will be voted on.

Seats occupied by Mayor Greg Woodyard, Vice Mayor Martha McCoy and former Mayor Kevin Berthot will be included in the at large election. It is unclear at this point whether Commissioner Jim Chappell’s seat will be included in the at large election or will have to be separated on the spring ballot.
Thuston is awaiting opinions from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to clear up the issue.
Chappell was appointed to complete the first two years of Tim Erickson’s seat on Nov. 25. Chappell was appointed to his seat by votes from Woodyard, Tim Egner and Berthot. Erickson received the most votes in the April 2013 election. Including the fourth seat on the spring ballot maintains the correct election cycle, Neosho County Clerk Randal Neely said.

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


Commerce announces more than $550,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding (Council Grove, Dodge City and Plainville)

The Kansas Department of Commerce announced today that three communities have received grants through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The funds, which total $554,649, have been awarded under the commercial rehabilitation category of CDBG funding.

The CDBG program allows the Department to distribute federal funds to Kansas cities and counties to improve their communities. To receive funds, a project must benefit low- and moderate-income individuals, remove or prevent slum or blight condition, or eliminate an urgent need created by a disaster when local funds are unavailable.

CDBG commercial rehabilitation funding helps cities improve the quality of their downtown commercial districts by assisting private property owners with the rehabilitation of blighted buildings. The intended outcome of the investment of grant funds in key buildings is to reverse the cycle of blight and encourage adjacent property owners to improve their buildings.

The following communities have received CDBG commercial rehabilitation funding:

• The city of Council Grove has been awarded $114,000 to make improvements to the Hays House restaurant. The work will include foundation stabilization, roof replacement, exterior walls repair, upper deck and front entry repair and an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant ramp. The renovations will allow the restaurant to continue to operate in Council Grove. The Hays House will provide $38,000 in private matching funds.

• The city of Dodge City has been awarded $190,649 to stabilize and repair the Old Dodge City Municipal Building that was built in 1929 and is listed on the National Register. The work will include tuck pointing the brick walls, roof repair and the removal of asbestos. The building will house the Boot Hill Distillery. The funds will be matched with $63,560 of private funds.

• The city of Plainville has been awarded $250,000 to improve a building located in downtown Plainville. The work will include exterior wall stabilization, roof replacement and electrical upgrades. The owners will provide $83,333 in private matching funds.

(Read more: Kansas Department of Commerce, KS – News Flash)


Courthouse is going nowhere

Responding to constituent concerns they claimed resulted from a Marion County Record headline July 23, county commissioners reaffirmed Monday that the county courthouse will remain in Marion.
“I need to straighten something out,” Commissioner Dan Holub said. “When you guys were talking about the courthouse, you were not talking about moving the courthouse of the city of Marion, right?”
Commission Chair Roger Fleming and Commissioner Randy Dallke said Holub was correct.
Turning to a Record reporter, Holub said, “That’s what your headline indicated, and that’s how people read it and took it, and it’s bothered me for days now,” Holub said.
In fact, what the Record article reported was that Dallke had said the courthouse “is nothing but a pit,” that the road and bridge department and transfer station should be moved out of Marion, and that the health department should vacate the historic Bowron building and move to a new building to be constructed by the courthouse.

(Read more: Marion County RECORD)


Galena City Council trashes movement on landfill until 2015

“We’re sorry.”
With those two words from Galena Mayor Dale Oglesby and adoption of five proposals he brought before the Galena City Council, the proposed landfill on land annexed by the city is dead.
At a special meeting of the Council, Oglesby read a prepared statement in which he admitted that he and the Council had proceeded with “zeal” on anything that would benefit Galena or Cherokee County. He cited the city’s orthopedic clinic and hospital, improvements to the city’s downtown area and job creation. But Oglesby acknowledged that a communication breakdown occurred in the process.

“I offer my apology as mayor of Galena for my part in our failure to include Riverton area residents in a matter of such importance,” he said. “I ask for your forgiveness and pledge to work together on issues that affect us all.
“I firmly believe if we put this debate to rest and pull together, our best days truly are before us.”

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


Salina fluoride petition clears

Voters in Salina will get a say whether fluoride should be added to the city’s water supply.

The group “Salina Cares” organized a petition drive, collecting more than 2,000 signatures needed to get the issue on the November ballot. The group said they believe fluoride is dangerous, and shouldn’t be in the water.

City leaders approved adding fluoride to the water supply in 1968.

The Saline County clerk verified the signatures. The petition cleared Wednesday.

(Read more: KWCH Top Stories)


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.)