Government entities that make up Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1 are asking a judge to determine whether a termination clause in an interlocal agreement is legal.

Government entities that make up Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1 are asking a judge to determine whether a termination clause in an interlocal agreement is legal.

The case was filed as the city of Lansing seeks to withdraw from Fire District No. 1 by terminating the interlocal agreement that was used to establish the fire district.

Fire District No. 1 provides fire department services to the city of Lansing and Delaware and High Prairie townships.

Representatives of Lansing and the two townships signed the agreement in 2003. The document also was signed by a representative of the Leavenworth County Commission and an assistant attorney general for the state of Kansas.

In June, a letter signed by Lansing Mayor Mike Smith and most members of the Lansing City Council was sent to various people involved with Fire District No. 1. The letter was intended to provide notice that the city would terminate its relationship with Fire District No. 1 at the end of 2019.

This later was superseded by another letter from Smith that indicated the city is terminating the interlocal agreement in June 2020.

Lansing city officials have indicated they wish to operate a Lansing Fire Department in the future.

The 2003 interlocal agreement states that “any party may terminate this agreement by providing to the other parties written notice of its intention to terminate the agreement.” The agreement calls for the notice to be provided at least 18 months in advance.

Attorneys for Delaware and High Prairie townships argue this provision of the interlocal agreement, which they identify as paragraph 10(b), does not comply with a state law concerning the disorganization of fire districts.

In January, attorneys for the two townships filed a petition in Leavenworth County District Court to seek a declaratory judgment. The attorneys are asking a judge to rule that paragraph 10(b) of the 2003 interlocal agreement is null and void.

The petition was signed by Timothy Orrick, an attorney for the Delaware Township, and Chadler Colgan, an attorney for the High Prairie Township.

The attorneys argue that a state law identified as KSA 19-3604 allows a county commission to disorganize a fire district upon receiving a petition. The attorneys also state that the same law allows county commissioners to remove land within a fire district’s territory upon receiving a petition.

The attorneys argue that no petition has been submitted to the Leavenworth County Commission to disorganize Fire District No. 1 or remove land from the district.

“And accordingly the Leavenworth County Board of Commissioners has taken no action to disorganize Fire District No. 1 or to exclude or remove lands from Fire District No. 1,” Orrick and Colgan wrote in their petition.

They also argue that the Leavenworth County Commission does not have the authority to authorize a party to the 2003 interlocal agreement to unilaterally disorganize Fire District No. 1 or remove land from the district.

And because of this, the attorneys argue that paragraph 10(b) of the interlocal agreement is null and void.

Adam Hall, an attorney representing the city of Lansing, filed a written response last month.

He points to another state law to support the position of the city of Lansing.

Hall argues that the state’s Interlocal Cooperation Agreement Act, which is identified as KSA 12-2904, requires interlocal agreements be submitted to the Kansas attorney general for approval.

Hall argues that the 2003 agreement was submitted to the Kansas Attorney General’s Office for review. The Attorney General’s Office approved the agreement in June 2003 and declared that it “complies with the requirements of the Interlocal Cooperation Agreement Act and with the laws of the state of Kansas.”

The city of Lansing is requesting the judge in the case find that the 2003 interlocal agreement “is a lawful and enforceable contract.” The city also is requesting that the judge rule Lansing officials have provided sufficient written notice to terminate the agreement in June 2020.

According to court records, no hearing date has been set in the case.

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