Mayor: Council to make decision about fire district

John Richmeier

The Lansing City Council may soon make a decision about how to respond to an announcement that county commissioners intend to take control of Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1, the mayor said.

A meeting Thursday of the Lansing City Council included a closed-door executive session so members could consult with an attorney.

Lansing Mayor Mike Smith said no decision has been announced regarding the County Commission’s plans. But he believes council members will make a decision soon.

Council members are scheduled to meet again June 18.

Leavenworth County commissioners voted Wednesday to have their chairman sign a letter that notifies stakeholders of their intent to assume control of the fire district after June 30.

Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1 provides fire department services to Lansing and Delaware and High Prairie townships.

The district is currently governed by a board made up of members who were appointed by representatives of Lansing and the two townships.

The process of appointing members to the district’s Board of Trustees was established through a 2003 interlocal agreement that was signed by representatives of Lansing, the two townships, the County Commission and an assistant attorney general for Kansas.

Lansing City Council members have previously notified stakeholders of their intent to withdraw from the fire district by utilizing a termination clause in the agreement. Council members previously set the termination date for this month.

Lansing officials have expressed an intent to start a city-operated fire department. And they have argued the assets of the fire district should be split up among the parties upon the termination of the agreement.

Last year, attorneys for Delaware and High Prairie townships filed a lawsuit, arguing the termination provision in the 2003 agreement is contrary to state law concerning the disorganization of fire districts.

In November, District Judge David King ruled the agreement can be terminated. But the judge ruled an “interlocal agreement cannot be used to require the apportionment of all of the property of a fire district on a party’s termination of the interlocal agreement.”

King also ruled that a city seeking to withdraw from a fire district must do so in accordance with state law.

State law outlines a process in which county commissioners can be petitioned to disorganize a fire district or alter a district’s boundaries.

Attorneys for Lansing have filed an appeal.

County commissioners argue that, by law, control of the fire district will shift to them once the agreement is terminated at the end of the month.

Smith is running for a seat on the County Commission this year. He faces Tom Dials in a Republican primary. No Democrat filed as a candidate for the seat.

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