A dispute regarding the city of Lansing’s intent to withdraw from Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1 is scheduled to go before a judge next week.

A dispute regarding the city of Lansing’s intent to withdraw from Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1 is scheduled to go before a judge next week.

The trial concerning a petition for a declaratory judgment is scheduled for Wednesday morning in Leavenworth County District Court.

At issue is a termination clause in a 2003 agreement that established Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1.

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

The pending lawsuit was filed in January by attorneys for the Delaware and High Prairie townships. The governing bodies of the townships are seeking a declaratory judgment regarding a provision in an interlocal agreement that allows a party to terminate the contract.

Representatives of Lansing and the two townships signed the 2003 interlocal agreement. 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 2018, 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This later was superseded by another letter from Smith that indicated the city is terminating the interlocal agreement in June 2020.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 officials also are seeking to apportion the assets of the fire district among the parties as allowed under the agreement.

Lansing officials have indicated they wish to operate a city 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 portion of the agreement does not comply with a state law concerning the disorganization of fire districts.

Attorneys for the city of Lansing argue that city officials have not requested the disorganization of the fire district, but they do seek to terminate the interlocal agreement.

Attorneys representing the city also are arguing the interlocal agreement was reviewed in 2003 by the Kansas Attorney General’s Office as required by law. And the Attorney General’s Office approved the agreement, finding that the document complied with the laws of the state.

Attorneys for the townships argue there is no difference between disorganizing a fire district and terminating the existence of the district by dividing up its assets.

The attorneys for the townships also argue an attorney general’s opinion is not binding.

A memorandum of law filed by Adam Hall, an attorney representing the city of Lansing, argues that the “Townships, like a teenager in the middle of a breakup, are trying to cling to Lansing.”

A response to this document filed by Timothy Orrick, an attorney for Delaware Township, accuses the city of trivializing “the critical nature of the services fire districts perform in protecting the health, safety and general welfare of the communities they serve” by comparing the townships to a teenager in the middle of a breakup.

Wednesday’s trial will be before a judge without a jury. And the judge will make a ruling on the petition.

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