Kansas Municipal News

New Kansas Law To Help Law Officers, Firefighters

Kansas is changing its workers’ compensation laws to ensure that firefighters and law enforcement officers have their medical expenses covered after a stroke or heart attack on the job.

Gov. Sam Brownback had a ceremony Wednesday at the Overland Park Fire Training Center to re-enact his earlier signing of legislation to revise a 1967 law unintentionally keeping firefighters and law enforcement officers from receiving such benefits.

(Read more: WIBW)


Edgerton officials accept award in D.C. for wasterwater treatment plant

Edgerton Mayor Donald Roberts, City Administrator Beth Linn, and City Council member Cindy Crooks represented the City of Edgerton at the awards gala.
The ACEC National Recognition Award was presented to the city, and Burns and McDonnell for their work on the Big Bull Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and Conveyance System located near the I-35 and Homestead Lane Interchange in Edgerton. …
The facility, a collaborative effort between the cities of Gardner and Edgerton, lies on six acres, and was built at a cost of 19 million dollars. It opened on July 31, 2013.

(Read more: Gardner News)


Wichita’s two-front push toward economic development

The push for economic diversity is gaining momentum in Wichita, where the city’s reliance on a single, cyclical industry has shown its perils in recent years.
Now, as the aviation manufacturing industry has seemingly right-sized itself to the current market, local leaders want to push to find ways to better diversify the local economy.
Wichita will likely always be the Air Capital, but the hope is that greater diversity will make the local economy better able to withstand the ebbs and flows of the industry.

(Read more: The Wichita Business Journal)


Galva residents assessing damage from wind storm

Thursday was cleanup day in Galva.
Besides knocking dozens of railroad cars off tracks right outside of this town of approximately 870, Wednesday night’s storm damaged about 65 Galva homes and structures, McPherson County Emergency Management Director Darren Frazier said.
“And I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more,” he said.
Frazier and a crew of volunteer firefighters, police and sheriff’s officers, construction workers and other first responders spent Thursday morning surveying the damaged area to see the wind storm’s full extent of the harm.

(Read more: The Hutchinson News)


Gun range gets essential OK in Ford County

The Santa Fe Trail Gun Club is one step closer to realizing its goal of a shooting range in Ford County after receiving support from the police chief, sheriff and county commission, Monday.
“As it stands right at the moment, the chief (Craig Mellecker) and I don’t have an issue with it, in fact, I think it’ll be a good thing as long as its property supervised. …. The chief and I are here to give our blessing,” Sheriff Dean Bush said.
The gun club would like to address a lack of safe, legal places to shoot in Ford County, a relative desert for ranges. Originally the group was called the Ford County Gun Club, but realized the served population extended far beyond the county’s borders.

(Read more: dodgeglobe.com)


Kansas to start ‘Blue Alerts’ for law enforcement

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says the state could soon begin issuing Blue Alerts to help law enforcement officers.

Schmidt says the alerts would go out when a law enforcement officer is wounded or killed and the suspect is still at large. Similar to Amber Alerts and Silver Alerts, the notices would provide information to encourage the public to help apprehend the suspect.

(Read more: KWCH Top Stories)


Study says Marion County pay 9% below peers

a market wage study reviewing all county positions … said the county’s wages are nearly 9 percent behind those of its market peers.
The study estimated it would cost the county about $189,000 per year to implement recommendations.
“The pay plan hasn’t been consistent,” Chairman Roger Fleming said. “That’s why we’re trying to figure a new way to do things.”

(Read more: Marion County RECORD)


Changing health plans saves Hillsboro $98K a year

The new plan, from Blue Cross Blue Shield, will cost $19,340 a month for its 26 employees. The previous plan, from Midwest Public Risk, cost $25,096 but was set to increase to $27,505 if the city renewed the plan. The switch to Blue Cross Blue Shield will save the city $97,980 a year.
However, the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan increases the deductible from $750 to $1,400.

(Read more: HILLSBORO Star-Journal)


Dodge City Police Department road safety efforts earns recognition by AAA

The efforts of the Dodge City Police Department in making the city’s streets safer have been recognized by AAA, which awarded the city with the Kansas Community Traffic Safety Award.
The award is given to communities that institute programs that promote traffic safety through enforcement, education, engineering and emergency response — the “four E’s” — said Kansas AAA Executive Vice President Jim Hanni.
This is the first year Dodge City applied for the award. AAA grants the award based on points and on the size of the community. Dodge City earned a silver award. Most first-time recipients receive a bronze level award, Hanni said.
Dodge City is one of 16 cities and counties to receive the award this year, the first year the department applied.

(Read more: dodgeglobe.com)


Edwardsville to survey residents on sales taxes

Jane Jackson said joining Edwardsville’s task force to study the possibility of asking voters for a special sales tax was a real eye-opener for her.

The Edwardsville resident and business owner said she hadn’t previously realized how the city could use revenue from a special sales tax to its benefit.

“People going to the Dollar General, people who go to Roscoe’s, they’re not just local people, they come from everywhere,” she said. “And they’re contributing to your city because they’re paying the sales tax, and that supports your fire department, or your parks, or your roads.”

That’s why Jackson and other members of the task force hope to present citizens with some facts so they can make an informed decision about a possible sales tax increase.

(Read more: BonnerSprings.com stories)


Hays district says fees, tax could help it re-hire some laid-off teachers

Hays schools continue to make some tough choices, as they deal with a 1.3 million dollar budget shortfall.

Now, amidst discussion of new fees, there is some hope of saving teachers jobs.

… the district is hoping that residents will approve increasing taxes, with a local option vote this summer.

If approved by voters, local property taxes would go up, the average resident would pay nineteen cents more per month.

In all, it would generate $200,000 for the district and would allow Hays to re-hire elementary teachers that plan to be cut.

(Read more: KSN News)


Hy-Vee offers Leawood hope, but store will close

A day after Leawood residents expressed their displeasure with the closing at a Leawood City Council meeting, Hy-Vee announced that it would discuss its future with the council.

In a statement, Hy-Vee said that it could reopen a newly renovated store if they can reach an agreement with the city on the location. Hy-Vee has sought several million dollars from the city for exterior and interior improvements, but Leawood city officials turned down the request.

(Read more: Kansas City Business Journal)


Derby schools, rec commission bracing for revenue hit from Boeing closure

Boeing’s lengthy and complicated departure from its Wichita facility could affect tax revenues in Derby.
With the inevitable sale of the facility, which has housed Boeing’s operations for more than 80 years, revenues from taxes could drastically drop for entities such as the Derby Recreation Commission and Derby Public Schools.
“When we heard about Boeing leaving town, immediately that was a red flag for us because a significant amount of the property in that facility is still owned by Boeing,” said Frank Seitz, DRC superintendent.
Boeing has been scaling down operations at its Wichita facility since it announced its closure in 2012.

(Read more: The Derby Informer)


Residents request Fotovich resignation

Four Gardner residents asked members of the Gardner’s governing body to censure council member Larry Fotovich. They asked that Fotovich resign, telling council that they believe Fotovich resides in Olathe. …
Fotovich, who was elected in 2011, owns a home in Gardner and one in Olathe. By ordinance, to be eligible for council, members must be “qualified electors” electors of the city, or be registered voters within the city. Fotovich is registered to vote in Gardner.

(Read more: Gardner News)


City of Chanute studying fiber optic options

Discussions at Monday night’s Chanute City Commission work session indicate an early desire for the city to offer only data services with a fiber optic-to-the-home system.
During Monday’s work session, Utilities Director Larry Gates presented several options for fiber to the home expansion. The most popular among the commission seemed to be Scenarios C and D.

Scenario C calls for the build out of city provided fiber optic-to-home broadband internet services. Service drops would only be provided to homes that want the internet services.

Scenario D calls for a build out of the fiber optic-to-the-home system for private communications companies to pay a fee to the city to lease the network and provide services to residential customers. The city would seek private companies for voice, video and internet services.

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


$3 billion price tag for Wichita projects stuns council

The tab for jobs, quality-of-life improvements, transit and helping the homeless was so large on Tuesday that several Wichita City Council members slumped in their seats.

And the bills are still rolling in.

If you want more high-paying jobs, convention and performing arts space, a better bus system and a room for every homeless person in Wichita, the price for that ends up just north of $800 million, City Manager Robert Layton and staff members said in the first four of eight reports on key issues before the city.

And none of that takes into account the nine-figure cost of a new water source, to be rolled out next week.

(Read more: Wichita Eagle: Top Stories)


Governments approve interlocal deal for a joint records management system

An interlocal agreement among Cowley County, and the cities of Arkansas City and Winfield, for a joint records management system (RMS) was approved by county commissioners at their Tuesday morning meeting at the county courthouse.
The agreement will enable the Cowley County Sheriff’s Office, and the Arkansas City and Winfield police departments, to have access to one another’s records and make their work more efficient, officials said.

The idea for the newest interlocal agreement grew out of the thinking that went into combining the county 911 services, according to County Administrator Jeremy Willmoth.
Police departments in Burden, Dexter and Udall also will have access to the joint records management system through satellite locations, but will not be required to pay to use it.

(Read more: The Arkansas City Traveler)


Gus Collins to take job in Winfield; Wellington City Manager position advertised

Wellington City Manager Gus Collins announced today that he is taking the job as Director of the City of Winfield Natural Gas and Wastewater Management. His position will begin Aug. 4.

In the meantime, Collins said Wellington has received eight to 10 applications for the city manager position already. The job is being advertised up until July 7 for which the Wellington City Council will then decide whether or not to appoint a committee or select a deserving candidate itself.

(Read more: Sumner NewsCow)


Reno County to rewrite prayer policy

In the wake of the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court opinion allowing sectarian prayer in legislative body meetings, Reno County will revise its own prayer policy, which now is more restrictive than federal interpretation.
Currently, those saying a prayer at the start of the weekly Reno County Commission meeting are asked to use non-sectarian language and avoid such language as “in Jesus’ name, we pray.”

County Counselor Joe O’Sullivan said he would be glad to draft an amended policy that once again allows sectarian prayer, and commissioners directed him to do so.

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


How the proposed $90M Wichita job fund could work

The Wichita City Council heard Tuesday from Intrust Bank’s Gary Schmitt, chairman Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, on a plan from economic development leaders to establish a $90 million fund to attract primary jobs to Wichita and Sedgwick County.

What would the fund be used for? Under the GWEDC plan, incentive agreements may include awards for job creation or to cover the costs of training, relocation, buildings or equipment. The public money could also support community assets like runways or road improvements.
Who would be eligible? Just about any company that creates primary jobs (jobs that involve producing goods or services primarily consumed outside the community) could be eligible, Schmitt said.

(Read more: The Wichita Business Journal)


Auburn learns insurance won’t cover theft

The city of Auburn only will be able to recover up to $20,000 in funds city officials say are missing because of unspecified activities of Auburn’s former clerk.

The Auburn City Council on Monday learned its insurance carrier won’t cover theft, city council president Lee Tibbetts said Tuesday. That leaves only the $20,000 bond the city has for former city clerk Alice Riley, he said.

That amount is less than what auditors have found so far, Tibbetts said.

(Read more: News)


Clay Center: Air ambulances can land here, but chose not to

City and airport officials said while there isn’t a person stationed at the municipal airport right now, the airport is being taken care of and air ambulances can land at the airport.
This issue arose last week after The Dispatch quoted county officials as saying that an air ambulance wasn’t able to land at the Clay Center Airport for an accident on April 2 because the air ambulance was unable get confirmation of the weather by phone.

EagleMed, the air ambulance service, said in an e-mail to city airport engineer Brad Waller that visibility was poor on April 2 from 9:30 to 11 p.m., which was why they requested rerouting to a nearby airport with an Automated Weather Observation Service (AWOS) system.
EagleMed officials said some times they talk to a trained weather observer, but that isn’t required to land.

(Read more: Clay Center Dispatch)


Idea pitched for Tonganoxie curbside recycling

Curbside recycling could be coming to Tonganoxie.

Randy Weldon with Honey Creek Disposal spoke to the City Council on Monday about recycling options.

The city’s current contract with Honey Creek is $12.75 per house. The city charges $15 for trash services.

Weldon said citywide curbside recycling would cost $2.25 for each residence. If the city wanted to do voluntary recycling in which residents could request curbside recycling case-by-case, the cost would be $4 per residence.

(Read more: TonganoxieMirror.com stories)


Baldwin City passes on saving in electrical cost to customers


The Baldwin City Council voted Monday to pass along its savings in the cost of energy to its largest customers.

The council approved the first reading of an adjustment to the city’s electrical rates, which gives large users a break on the demand charge they are asked to pay. Lowe said the change was recommended because KCP&L eliminated its variable demand charge, or an added cost of energy to the city purchased during peak demand periods, when it entered into a new contract with the city in December 2012.

(Read more: BaldwinCity.com stories)


U.S. Supreme Court endorses prayers before town meetings

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the practice of public prayer before local-government meetings, rejecting arguments that overwhelmingly Christian invocations violate the constitutional bar on the establishment of an official religion.

The case split the court 5-4 along its conservative-liberal divide, with Justice Anthony Kennedy delivering the majority opinion that permitted prayers at Greece, N.Y., town board meetings.

“Our tradition assumes that adult citizens, firm in their own beliefs, can tolerate and perhaps appreciate a ceremonial prayer delivered by a person of a different faith,” Justice Kennedy wrote.

The court found the town’s practice constitutional under a 1983 precedent upholding invocations before a state legislature. Justice Kennedy stressed the unique nature of legislative invocations, a tradition dating to the Continental Congress, and distinguished the town-board case from precedents barring teacher-led prayers or religious invocations in public classrooms and graduation ceremonies.

(Read the Wall Street Journal analysis.)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a town in New York state did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s ban on government endorsement of religion by allowing prayers before its monthly meetings.

In a decision that is likely to guide how local governments throughout the United States handle the question, the court said on a 5-4 vote that officials in the town of Greece did not violate the law when picking prayer-givers, who were overwhelmingly Christian.

Read more at Reuters.



Court ruling may reverse Reno County commission prayer policy

A U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday will probably result in the Reno County Commission reversing a policy requiring that prayers offered at the start of its meetings be non-sectarian.

The commission adopted the policy two years ago, after receiving a complaint from Americans United for Separation of Church and State about distinctly Christian prayers and citing court rulings prohibiting them.

However, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on Monday said that Christian prayer is in line with long tradition in the United States and the content of the prayers is insignificant as long as they do not denigrate non-Christians or try to win converts.

Commission Chairman James Schlickau said the three commissioners probably should discuss the decision in a public meeting and decide whether they want to return to their previous policy.

(Read more: The Hutchinson News)


Insurance rates could go down thanks to one county’s fire departments

When a fire breaks out in rural Ellis county, it’s a community affair.

The area towns, rural and county departments all come together to fight the blaze.

That teamwork, along with more training sessions for firefighters, are also bolstered by new equipment.

All that work led to a better rating by the insurance service office, for fast response times.

That means lower rates for area homeowners and confidence in their emergency crews.

(Read more: ksn.com)


Baxter Springs, southeast Kansas in blind spot despite new radar

An E-F2 tornado that left mounds of debris, twisted metal and hanging power lines along a two-block-wide path through Baxter Springs, Kan., last month wasn’t big enough to be detected by a new radar at the National Weather Service office in Springfield.

The Joplin Globe reports new dual-polarization radar installed in Springfield and Tulsa has greatly enhanced forecasters’ ability to detect tornados. But even with the technology there is a blind spot in southeast Kansas because of the curvature of the earth.

(Read more: News)