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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Commissioners request ruling on recusal issue

  • A County Commission vote on a resolution for sewer district assessments was halted Monday as the chairman suggested another commissioner should recuse himself.
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    • In other business
      When they met Monday, Leavenworth County commissioners took the following action:

      The approved a memorandum of understanding with the city of Tonganoxie regarding a project o...
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      In other business
      When they met Monday, Leavenworth County commissioners took the following action:
      The approved a memorandum of understanding with the city of Tonganoxie regarding a project on County Road 6.
  • A County Commission vote on a resolution for sewer district assessments was halted Monday as the chairman suggested another commissioner should recuse himself.
    Commissioners then voted to seek an independent legal opinion regarding whether Commissioner Dennis Bixby should recuse himself because earlier comments.
    The issue came up during a public hearing on a proposed resolution for fiscal year 2014 assessments for Sewer District No. 3, which includes Glenwood Estates near Basehor.
    Commissioner Clyde Graeber had made a motion for the county to contribute $20,000 to help reduce the assessment fees for individual users of the sewer district. The county provided similar financial assistance last year.
    Each user in the district is assessed money to pay off a $1.13 million loan that paid for work in the district as well as an additional fee for operation and maintenance costs.
    A vote on Graeber's motion began with Graeber and Bixby supporting the measure. But Commission Chairman Bob Holland held off on voting, saying he would like to see Bixby recuse himself.
    Holland said his suggestion was based on remarks Bixby had made about two weeks earlier. Holland said Bixby already had indicated how he would vote before hearing the "good or bad parts" about the issue.
    "I don't feel this would be a fair vote Dennis," Holland said.
    County Counselor David Van Parys said it was incumbent on Bixby to make the judgement regarding his recusal from the vote.
    Holland asked if commissioners could have an independent ruling on the issue from other legal counsel that has an association with the county.
    Van Parys said commissioners could request such a ruling, which could be done by counsel that has performed other work for the county.
    He noted the county clerk is facing a deadline for the 2014 tax assessments.
    Graeber asked if the independent ruling could be completed by the time commissioners are scheduled to meet Thursday.
    Van Parys said he can't speak for the other legal counsel but this is something that can be asked.
    "I just feel we need to move forward," Graeber said.
    Several people who live in Sewer District No. 3 were in attendance Monday and spoke during the public hearing.
    When the recusal issue came up, Joan Robinson asked Holland if he had a vendetta against the Sewer District residents. She argued the Graeber's proposal was similar to one approved last year but Holland seemed dead set on it not going through.
    Holland said he had a legal obligation to bring up any indiscretion he believes has taken place.
    Graeber said there has been no one more honorable or honest to serve on the County Commission than Holland.
    Page 2 of 2 - Graeber made a motion to move forward with asking for an independent ruling on the recusal issue with a response by Thursday. This measure passed 2-1 with Bixby voting against it.
    Commissioners plan to resume the public hearing on the Sewer District No. 3 assessments at 10 a.m. Thursday.
    Van Parys said the initial vote on the motion to approve the $20,000 contribution never had been finalized and that measure was not approved.
    When contacted after Monday's meeting, Holland said he had waited to raise the recusal issue until after he saw how the other two commissioners voted on the matter. Holland said he wanted to see whether he needed to bring up the issue.

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