Kansas Municipal News

Arkansas City mayor change on hold


The Arkansas City Commission is considering a resolution that would amend the commission handbook to ensure that anyone chosen to be mayor would have a sufficient amount of experience.
The resolution — which was discussed at the commission’s regular meeting July 1 — would require the person chosen to be mayor to have served for at least a year on the commission.
“As of now, there are no rules as to how the mayor is appointed by city commission — it’s simply by a majority vote,” said city manager Nick Hernandez, who added that he hoped this would make the method of choosing a mayor more concrete.
The change would end the practice of the top vote-getter after each election assuming the role of mayor, unless that person already was serving on the commission.
The reason behind the proposal, according to the resolution, is “to ensure legislative familiarity and commission protocol.”

Audience member Gareth McGee expressed a concern: “The wording (of the resolution) needs to be proper, so it’s not perceived as taking away power from the public.” Commissioner Jean Snell cautioned that if the resolution were passed immediately, the public might be angry. Commissioners tabled the resolution until the next meeting so that the public has a chance to respond.

(Read more: The Winfield Daily Courier – news,news/)


Amtrack CEO to visit Newton


This week Amtrak president and CEO Joe Boardman will take a special train trip, one that will pass through Newton.
“This is about the risk to that route,” said Marc Magliari, a spokesman for Amtrak. “The communities have been supportive of this, but we do not have an agreement and the clock is ticking.”
Possible downgrades to the BNSF rail used for freight could begin as early as 2016, and that could lead to a problem for the Southwest Chief which passes through Newton.

Newton is the busiest station in Kansas — and if plans for either a connector bus to Oklahoma City or an extension of the Heartland Flyer which stops in Oklahoma City come to fruition, it could be busier.
“You lose (The Southwest Chief) and you lose the idea of addition of service,” Magliari said. “We have to be able to maintain what we have.”

(Read more: thekansan.com)


Roeland Park anti-discrimination ordinance in final form; ready for July 21 vote

The Roeland Park City Council is ready to vote on its proposed anti-discrimination ordinance on July 21 after making only a couple of minor wording changes and holding for future discussion a proposed resolution that would establish a committee without the authority to investigate complaints of discrimination.

Councilor Marek Gliniecki suggested the committee and delivered a draft resolution to the council at the meeting. According to the document, the committee would be established for the “sole purpose of bringing people together of various backgrounds in order to continue to develop mutual respect and build relationships.”

(Read more: Prairie Village Post)


Leawood plan would create extensive network of trails for walkers, bikers throughout city

At nearly 200 pages long, ‘Self-Propelled Leawood,’ the pedestrian and bicycle master plan discussed at the Leawood City Council work session Monday evening, would be no small task to accomplish.

City officials raised questions and praised the depth of the plan after a presentation from Marty Shukert, a principal with RDG Planning and Design, an Omaha consultant group brought in to create the extensive pedestrian and bicycle network.

“I didn’t read it all in one sitting,” Mayor Peggy Dunn said with a laugh at the work session. “This plan that is going to be great for our city and set us apart. I’m on the trails every weekend and see how much love there is for this.”

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


Reno County OKs retirement party funding

The Reno County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a new policy allowing county departments to spend up to $100 from their departmental budgets to throw retirement parties for eligible employees.
To qualify, the retiring employee must have worked for the county at least 10 consecutive years and be eligible for retirement benefits from KPERS, KPNS (for firefighters or law enforcement) or Social Security, said Human Resources Director Renee Harris.
The funds can be used for refreshment expenses, such as cake, drinks and table service, but not for gifts for the employee. The county will also supply a framed retirement certificate, Harris said.
Other stipulations to qualify for the funding are that the reception be open to the public and occur within a county building, Harris said.

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


Treasurer Problems Continue in Barton County

The saga over Barton County’s money troubles continues, there’s now a half a million dollars more than expected on the books.

… earlier this year … officials realized treasurer Kevin Wondra hadn’t balanced the county’s books in more than a year, and hired an outside firm to do the job.

It’s the half-million dollar question right now in Barton County, where should the $581,000 go that outside contractors recently found?

“The treasurer at that time did not determine where that money should go, so the county knew the money was there, knew it was in the bank account but the next part of the equation is to put the money into the proper account,” said County Administrator Richard Boeckman.

(Read more: KSN-TV)


Petition turned in to increase Saline County commission

Citizens that want to give voters a chance to expand the county commission took the next step on Tuesday.

They officially turned in a petition to the county clerk’s office with more than 2,800 signatures. If 1,647 of those signatures are valid, the issue will be placed on the county’s November ballot, giving the voters a chance to expand the commission from three to five.

“I think there will be more consensus building,” organizer Janice Norlin said. “There will be more diversity, we hope. There will be better decision making.”

(Read more: KWCH Top Stories)


Will Merriam be the first Midwest city to adopt modern wheelchair access icon?

It’s time for signs to keep up with the times.

That is the contention of two men who are working to make Merriam the first Midwest city to adopt a new, more active-looking symbol indicating a place is accessible to those who use wheelchairs.

Finn Bullers of Prairie Village is a former Kansas City Star reporter and now the Midwest regional coordinator for the Accessible Icon Project, which is working to change the 45-year-old upright stick figure to something more forward-leaning, lifelike and life-affirming.

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


Emporia enjoying connection with Hostess

Emporia, Kan., could have bragging rights as the Twinkie capital of the world.

Its Hostess Brands plant, reopened last year and expanded this year, has added $30 million worth of improvements, including a $25 million bakery line to churn out more snack cakes.

On Friday, July 18, a 9:30 a.m. ribbon cutting will celebrate construction of a new 36,000-square-foot warehouse. On Saturday, July 19, the city’s Flinthills Mall will have a Twinkie festival, where from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. there will be Twinkie-themed costume, recipe, song and eating contests.

Emporia officials are relishing the city’s status as home to the company’s flagship snack cake bakery, which also turns out Hostess Cup Cakes, Donettes, Coffee Cakes and a new product, Greek Yogurt Cakes.

“It’s beneficial to us and to Hostess, too,” said Rob Gilligan, a city commissioner and chairman of the Emporia Regional Development Association of East Central Kansas. “We’re glad they recognize the productivity of our people.”

(Read more: KC Star)


Governor Brownback orders flags lowered on Wednesday, July 9, in honor of Sen. Ross O. Doyen

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff from sun-up to sun-down throughout the state of Kansas on Wednesday, July 9, in honor of former State Senator Ross O. Doyen.

“Senator Doyen spent his life serving his fellow citizens,” said Governor Brownback. “He joined the United States Navy during World War II, right after graduating from high school, and served his country with distinction. Later, he brought that same commitment to his work in the legislature. Senator Doyen was a true Kansan, and we are grateful for his service. I extend my deepest sympathy to his family and friends and will keep them in my prayers.”

Senator Doyen served in the United States Navy for 21 months in World War II, where he worked as an aircraft mechanic on C-54 transport planes. He began his political career in the Kansas House of Representatives 1959, and was later elected to the Kansas Senate in 1968. He served as President of the Kansas Senate from 1975-1984.


Leawood City Council gives ‘Little Free Libraries’ a temporary reprieve

Nine-year-old Spencer Collins will be able put his “Little Free Library” back in his front yard first thing in the morning.

The Leawood City Council unanimously approved a temporary moratorium Monday night that exempts the little lending libraries from a city ordinance that prohibits structures in front yards. The moratorium, effective Tuesday, will last until Oct. 20.

As soon as the moratorium passed, Mayor Peggy Dunn called Spencer to the front of the room to hand him a book for his library, an action that received applause from the audience.

Spencer made national headlines last month after Leawood officials asked his family to take their little library down, which sparked an outcry from the family and other supporters of the Little Free Library movement.

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


City Council approves deal to bring Google Fiber to Overland Park

The Overland Park City Council approved two agreements Monday night that should end a months-long impasse over the introduction of Google Fiber’s ultra-high-speed Internet and cable TV service.

City Manager Bill Ebel said the agreements allowing Google to build “network huts” on city property and use city infrastructure to string its fiberoptic cable were substantially the same as those that some council members had balked at approving in September.

The following month, Google announced it was, at least temporarily, abandoning plans to build out its network in Overland Park, saying it would work on other area cities first. Some industry analysts saw that as a message for cities not to be too demanding.

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


Columbus working with proposed bar & grill seeking to clear hurdles

Cari Turner wants to open a family business and she’s hoping the Columbus City Council will help her make it happen.
The entrepreneur is planning to open a bar and grill at 218 E. Maple. And that is where her concerns begin. She approached the Council Monday night asking whether she would need to obtain a location exemption for the proposed business. Her question was how the city would measure the distance between the bar and grill and a neighboring church. Local ordinance requires a separation of at least 200 feet.
… In the two weeks between meetings, the city will take measurements and determine whether Turner needs the exception.
While gaining location approval is the big issue, Turner has another hurdle to clear, and that one is a bit tougher. She is concerned about the city requirement that servers in such businesses be 21 years of age, rather than the Kansas state standard age of 18.
“I have an 18-year-old daughter, and we truly want this to be a family business,” she said.
[City attorney Robert] Myers told Turner that the city’s more restrictive standard would take precedence in this case, even though the business would be serving cereal-malt beverages and not distilled spirits.
“Is there any way to apply for an exception to that?” she asked.
“Ask the Council to repeal the ordinance,” Myers answered.

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


Wellsvile considers lifting pit bull ban


City leaders are reconsidering the decade-old pit bull ban in Wellsville.

The city ordinance prevents pit bulls and Staffordshire terriers from living inside city limits. A number of cities have bans like this.

But some are questioning the ban, saying the breed of dog is not the issue.

Others concurred, saying a breed-specific ban isn’t fair.

Supporters of the ban say there has not been a major dog attack in Wellsville since the ban was enacted.

(Read more: KCTV – App – News)


Muni Bonds 101 explained to congressional staff

On July 2, 2014, the MBFA (Municipal Bonds for America) Coalition held a “Municipal Bonds 101″ seminar on Capitol Hill for congressional staff and interested parties focusing on the importance of preserving the present-law treatment of tax-exempt municipal bonds.

The seminar featured a distinguished panel of municipal finance experts from varying backgrounds who explained the benefits of the traditional municipal bond market to staff from key congressional personal and committee offices.

Handouts from the seminar are available below:
• Click here for the letter from Reps. Ruppersberger and Hultgren on Eliminating Tax-Exempt Muni Bonds
• Click here for the MBFA two-pager on Applying a Limit or Surtax on the Value of Municipal Bonds
• Click here for Co-Sponsors to H.Res. 112 and Ruppersberger/Hultgren Letter to Bi-Partisan Leadership
• Click here for a copy of H.Res. 112
• Click here for the US Conference of Mayors 2014 Muni Bond Resolution
• Click here for a report on “Protecting Bonds” produced by the National Association of Counties, National League of Cities and US Conference of Mayors.

For more information on the Municipal Bonds for America coalition, visit: www.munibondsforamerica.org


Federal agency rejects Park City tribal casino

There won’t be a tribal casino in Park City. The US Department of the Interior has rejected a request by the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma to take land owned by the tribe near Park City into a federal trust – which would have allowed casino gaming.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt made the announcement Monday. Schmidt says his office has defended the state’s legal interests in not allowing the casino.

(Read more: KWCH Top Stories)


Fireworks create revenue windfall for Wichita-area cities

The city of Derby brought in an additional $64,000 this year from the sale of permits for commercial fireworks tents.
That’s money the city wouldn’t have without selling eight, $8,000 tent permits.
Derby, like other cities, expects a one-time revenue boost around the Fourth of July every year.
Cities in the Wichita area differ on the amount they charge for permits for fireworks tents. They range from around $85 to $10,000 per tent permit.

Read more: Wichita Business Journal.


Wal-Mart marks transformation of KCK neighborhood

A new Wal-Mart in Kansas City, Kan., seemingly is breaking form — being welcomed by neighbors and city officials alike for going in an area that is far from the hottest suburban area, The Kansas City Star reports.
City officials say a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market being built in KCK’s Argentine neighborhood is one more sign of revival for the area. The new store, being built on a former Superfund site, will have as many as 95 employees.

(Read more: Kansas City Business Journal)


Across Kansas, towns and neighborhoods burst with Fourth of July fun

Independence Day or the Fourth of July: No matter what you call it, there will be festivities – picnics and barbecues and splashes and belly busters in swimming pools and lakes across Kansas.

You can count on explosions of light and sound – sparklers, aerial displays, poppers and snaps, all in the name of celebrating the birth of a country 238 years ago when the 13 colonies separated from Great Britain and declared their independence from a king’s tyranny and taxation.

The first celebration in Kansas was more than two centuries ago when members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition celebrated near what is now Atchison by firing off shots and drinking extra whiskey on July 4, 1804.

(Read more: Wichita Eagle: State)


City manager makes trip to Washington

Derby City Manager Kathy Sexton was among a group of 22 Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce representatives who recently visited Washington, D.C.
As part of the trip, Sexton said members of the group met with all four Kansas congressmen and two senators. They also visited with key federal committee members from other states.
The conversations were on issues of local impact, including the Federal Highway Trust Fund which provides funding to cities and state for street maintenance. The trust has not seen long-term funding in recent years, Sexton said.

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


Shawnee County sells delinquent parcel for $50

Shawnee County on Thursday sold a small, landlocked delinquent parcel for $50.

The 9-foot-wide parcel didn’t sell at a recent tax sale, county counselor Rich Eckert said, and has no use other than to the person who offered to buy it. In fact, the property on S.E. 29th only is accessible to David Petty’s property, 4834 S.E. 29th St., or a neighbor’s property at 4828 S.E. 29th.

“A fair amount of the time, the one entity that could actually use the property never puts a bid on it,” Eckert said. “Mr. Petty was kind enough to take this burden from us.”

(Read more: News)


Rural fire departments in jeopardy

Small town Kansas fire chiefs say it could force their departments to shut down. A federal rule that is cutting off the supply of trucks for the departments may leave them no option.

“It will put us out of business,” says Rosalia chief Dean Bender.

Rural fire departments buy many of their trucks through a military surplus option. Trucks that normally cost up to $100,000 or more are sold for as little as $5,000. Others are provided on loan through the forest service. Many rural fire departments have just enough budget for basic operations.

But the trucks are built for military use and don’t meet EPA emission standards.

According to an email sent to Kansas fire chiefs, the USDA Forest Service, which oversees both of these programs, has made contact with EPA and the military but was told they do not plan to change the policy.

(Read more: KWCH Top Stories)


Roeland Park council approves restructuring to administrative team

The Roeland Park City Council this week adopted a restructuring of the administrative team that, without adding employees, will change job descriptions for the city clerk and director of finance.

Debra Mootz, who has resigned, has held both of those titles. The proposal from City Administrator Aaron Otto creates a city clerk position and a director of finance and assistant city administrator. … The city administrator position will have responsibilities for neighborhood development and economic development in the city.

(Read more: Prairie Village Post)


Baldwin City opposition quick to develop against Wal-Mart Express

Walmart Express

Soon after signing a petition Thursday opposing the opening of a Wal-Mart Express in Baldwin City, Janice Craig started to explain her opposition.

But before she could speak, Craig was interrupted by a man firmly stating his stance. Wal-Mart’s presence would “ruin the town” by closing existing businesses and ultimately shrinking the tax base, the man said. If people wanted to go to a Wal-Mart, there were three within a 20-minute drive, he said.

“I agree with what he said,” Craig said. “We don’t need this in Baldwin City.”

(Read more: BaldwinCity.com stories)


Lobbyist: Camptown casino could be running in year

A long-shuttered southeast Kansas dog racing track could be converted into a casino in less than a year, its supporters say, giving it an advantage over someone wanting to build a gambling facility from scratch.
Legislation that went into effect on Tuesday lowers the investment required for a prospective southeast Kansas casino developer from $225 million to $50 million and drops the fee the state charges to developers from $25 million to $5.5 million.

A 2007 state law allows a single casino in southeast Kansas, Dodge City, Kansas City and Wichita, but efforts to fill the southeast Kansas slot have been unsuccessful largely because of the amount of money the state required for the initial investment.
Camptown Greyhound Park, a $14 million project in Frontenac, just north of Pittsburg, opened in 1995.

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


Community activist starts award series for neighbors combating blight

There is a new City of Wichita sign outside Madison Avenue Apartments.

The sign and the certificate that came with it honor manager Tommy Benford, the first recipient of Janet Wilson’s “Neighborhood Pride” award. Wilson, a community activist in the A. Price Woodard neighborhood, kicked off the award series June 26 to draw attention to positive changes in an area of Wichita combating blight.

Recipients of the award adopt a “worst to first” mindset, Wilson said. She tried to put the sign where someone driving past the intersection of Madison and Ninth Street can see it.

(Read more: Wichita Eagle: News Updates)


Cities eye sales tax to fund road projects

Two area cities are looking toward sales tax as a way to pay for road repairs, a trend in Sedgwick County after the statewide sales tax rate dropped.

The Valley Center City Council this week took a step toward placing a sales tax question on the November ballot, while the Bel Aire council approved an ordinance that does just that.

In Valley Center, the council on July 1 discussed the possibility of a 1 cent sales tax for 10 years to pay for major road projects.

(Read more: Valley Center Newswire)


Wichita tries triage system to deal with neighborhood complaints

Shortly after taking on his new role in November 2012, [Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department Tom] Stolz discovered neighborhood inspections had been responding to every situation the same.

That led to serious issues not being handled as quickly as necessary.

“You only have so many inspectors, so many police officers,” Stolz said. “Call it triage or prioritization, you have to assess the seriousness and respond accordingly.”

Until last week’s change, every complaint was expected to receive a response within 72 hours.

Cases involving health and safety will now draw responses within 24 hours, if not immediately, he said.

Mid-level issues – such as tree waste, graffiti, exterior housing violations – will get the 72-hour response. Others – such as trash continually left by the curb and lighting complaints – will be longer.

“We will get to them,” Stolz said.

The everything-the-same approach has meant some existing housing cases are years old.

“No housing case should go that long without reconciliation or court prosecution,” Stolz said.

(Read more: Wichita Eagle: Top Stories)


‘Air’ has gone out of this small Kingman County town, but Adams still has fireworks

With just a handful of homes and a population of six, this little Kingman County town that claims [aircraft designer/aviator] Cessna as its own has nearly disappeared.
“We have the fireworks stand, but that’s all that is left,” said Bradley in terms of business. “We never had a mayor or anything like that. There is not much left here, but I’ve lived here my entire life.”

Adams never was big. It started as a small station in 1888 along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, according to history written by Bradley’s mother, Bonnie Robertson.
At that time, Adams had a post office and general store. It was named after one of the first settlers, Allen C. Adams, an Illinois native and a descendant of John Quincy Adams.

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