The chairman of the Leavenworth County Commission has proposed dissolving the Leavenworth County Port Authority.

The chairman of the Leavenworth County Commission has proposed dissolving the Leavenworth County Port Authority.

“It’s time to disband it,” Chairman Louis Klemp said.

He made the recommendation Tuesday during a meeting of the County Commission.

No action was taken Tuesday. Senior County Counselor David Van Parys will report to the commission in two weeks regarding the legal aspects of dissolving the Port Authority.

The Port Authority is an economic development organization that has a focus on industrial businesses. The organization was created in 1969 through a joint agreement between the county government and city of Leavenworth.

The Port Authority is governed by a five-member Board of Directors. Members of the board are appointed jointly by the County Commission and Leavenworth City Commission.

The county government is the only local government entity that traditionally provides funding to the Port Authority each year.

In July, county commissioners approved an amended version of the 1969 agreement that established the Port Authority. Under the amended version of the agreement, the County Commission would have the sole responsibility of appointing members to the Port Authority board.

The new agreement also requires approval by the Leavenworth City Commission before it can go into effect.

City commissioners discussed the amended agreement last month, but they have taken no action.

Klemp said the county government has provided more than $3 million to the Port Authority over the years. He said the city government has only provided $15,974 to the Port Authority.

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, County Administrator Mark Loughry prepared a memorandum for county commissioners that provided them with five options in regards to the Port Authority.

Klemp said he recommended the fifth option of withdrawing from the Port Authority and dividing up the organization’s assets.

“I would just like to see some of the bureaucracy removed,” Klemp said.

Klemp said the Leavenworth County Development Corporation can provide the same services as the Port Authority.

“It doesn’t do anything that we can’t do without it,” Klemp said of the Port Authority.

The LCDC acts as a partner agency to the Port Authority. The LCDC also receives funding from the county government as well as several cities in the county.

County Commissioner Bob Holland said he was expecting to see representatives of the Port Authority’s board at Tuesday’s meeting.

“We don’t have any board members here,” he said.

Loughry said the matter was presented to the Port Authority earlier in the year. And it was determined that the issue involves the original agreement between the city and county.

“This really is an issue between the city and the county,” Loughry said.

No representative of the city of Leavenworth was in attendance.

Dan Gutshall was in attendance. He does not serve on the Port Authority board, but he heads a committee for the Port Authority that has come up with a proposal for a loan incentive program for the construction of spec buildings.

Gutshall expressed concern that industrial development could be held hostage because of a dispute between the city and county.

He said county commissioners need to get together with city officials to talk about the issue.

“You can’t get together with the city,” Klemp said.

He said “this is a very divisive community.”

County Commissioner Doug Smith asked if Klemp would be willing to keep the Port Authority in place if the city of Leavenworth matches the county’s funding for the organization.

“I would like to see it done within 30 days,” Klemp said.

Smith questioned how the assets of the Port Authority would be divided.

Smith said county commissioners need legal advice to make sure everything is done properly. Smith said he does not want to end up in court.

Van Parys said he can report back to the commission in two weeks regarding the legal aspects of dissolving the Port Authority.

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