Lansing plans to withdraw from fire district

By John Richmeier
Leavenworth Times – July 2, 2018

The city of Lansing plans to withdraw from Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1 at the end of next year.

That is according to a letter signed by Mayor Mike Smith and most of the members of the Lansing City Council.

Copies of the letters reportedly were being delivered Friday to officials associated with Fire District No. 1. Rick Huhn, chief of Fire District No. 1, said a copy of the letter was delivered to him by Lansing Police Chief Steve Wayman.

Huhn provided a copy of the letter to the Leavenworth Times.

Fire District No. 1 provides fire department services to the city of Lansing and Delaware and High Prairie townships. The district has a five-member governing board with three members from Lansing and one member from each of the two townships.

The district is supported financially through its own property tax levy.

The fire district has been in existence since 2004.

“The Lansing City Council feels a new start would best serve the people within our city limits as well as those just outside the City’s boundaries,” the letter from the mayor and City Council states. “From a financial standpoint, efficiencies would be gained through shared tasks including inspections and public safety cooperation at incidents covered by police, fire and EMS personnel.”

Huhn expressed anger about the City Council’s announcement.

“Why wasn’t there public discussion on this?” he said.

Huhn argued the issue should be brought to voters.

When contacted Friday, Smith said Lansing city officials were planning to address the City Council’s decision through a news release that is scheduled to be released Saturday morning.

Members of the Lansing City Council had a special meeting Thursday in which they met in executive session for consultation with an attorney.

Following the executive session, council members voted to authorize to execute approved legal notice documents regarding an interlocal cooperation agreement related to Fire District No. 1. The documents were to be delivered to the fire district, two townships and Leavenworth County Commission.

The motion was unanimously approved, according to Lansing City Administrator Tim Vandall.

Councilman Gene Kirby was absent Thursday and he is the only member of the City Council who did not sign the letter that was delivered to Huhn.

According to the letter, the city was required to provide notice of its intent to withdraw from the fire district 18 months in advance.

“With this correspondence, the City gives notice that the required 18-month transition period is now underway, with Lansing’s participation in Fire Dist. #1 ceasing at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2019,” the letter states.

The letter indicates city of Lansing officials are prepared to begin “apportionment of property as outlined” in an interlocal agreement for Fire District No. 1 once all parties are prepared.

The letter indicates the city government will be taking over fire protection services for Lansing and “still desires to work together with the townships if they are interested. It is also the City’s intention to keep many, if not all Fire District staff in their current positions.”

Fire District No. 1′s Board of Directors recently announced that Todd Farley has been hired as assistant chief with the intent of him taking over as chief when Huhn retires later this year.

Huhn suggested there may be a gray area regarding what will happen to the fire district’s property if Delaware and High Prairie townships want to continue to operate Fire District No. 1.

 

Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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