It appears the county's bond election for the south Lawrence trafficway won't be held until the August primary.
Although the Douglas County Commission didn't reach a firm decision Wednesday night, two of the commissioners said they favored holding the bond vote in conjunction with the primary election.
A decision on the specific timing of the election won't come until January. Mike Amyx, commission chairman, suggested that commissioners hold off until they can meet with city commissioners from Lawrence and Eudora. Amyx said the county bond election could be packaged with a Lawrence bond election for the trafficway, and perhaps a Eudora bond election for a proposed Kansas Highway 10 interchange a mile west of the current Eudora interchange.
COUNTY Administrator Chris McKenzie presented several options for holding the bond election at Monday's commission meeting. The bond election could be held in conjunction with the primary election Aug. 7 or the general election Nov. 6. Commissioners also could schedule a special election earlier in the year, either by the usual procedure or by mail ballot.
Commissioners agreed Wednesday that they didn't favor a mail ballot election, which County Clerk Patty Jaimes said could be held June 11. The cost of the mail ballot election was estimated at $35,000 to $40,000, while a special election by the usual balloting method would cost about $25,000.
Commissioner Nancy Hiebert favored holding a special bond election in April, saying it's better to get the matter resolved as soon as possible. She also said the turnout for the August primary might not be as high.
But Commissioners Louie McElhaney and Amyx said they felt the bond issue would draw a large turnout whenever it was held.
THE COUNTY'S decision to hold an election on the trafficway was spurred by a recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling, which stated that the county exceeded its home rule authority in issuing $4 million in general obligation bonds for the trafficway without holding a bond election.
The 14-mile, $58.2 million road would run south and west of Lawrence, linking Kansas Highway 10 with the Kansas Turnpike.
Unless the high court revises its ruling, the county's $12.5 million bond issue in 1985 and the $13 million bond refinancing issue in 1986 are invalid, according to Mary Carson, an attorney for Gilmore & Bell, the county's bonding firm.
The court didn't address the entire bond issue, only the county's issuance of bonds for the trafficway. But there is no distinction between trafficway bonds and the other bonds, she said.
IF THE BONDS are invalid, she said, they wouldn't be exempt from federal income taxes.
"The IRS hasn't come in and declared them taxable, but case law has indicated that could happen," she said. "We really need to clarify the status of the bonds."
McKenzie said the county will file a motion for reconsideration with the Supreme Court next week.
Commissioners also plan to meet with local legislators Dec. 29 to discuss possible legislative remedies that would validate the bond issue.
IN OTHER business, commissioners:
Tabled consideration of appointments to the Valleyview Care Home's board of trustees until Dec. 29.
Tabled reconsideration of a commercial zoning request for the Rock Chalk ranch property on the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive until Jan. 15.
Instructed McKenzie to contact people who served on the county's hearing panel for property valuation appeals to see if they're interested in serving on the board again to handle 1989 tax protests. Commissioners asked McKenzie to then return to them with a recommendation.
Approved a resolution giving final approval to a request to rezone from light to heavy industrial district 22.44 acres east of Haskell Avenue and south of 31st Street. Commissioners approved the rezoning last month for the property, where Penny's Concrete plans to build a concrete plant.
APPROVED the low bid of $6,700 for paper supplies from Butler Paper Co., and the bid for other office supplies from M & M Office Supplies, which offered a 31 percent discount. Commissioners also directed staff to check on the discounts offered by the other vendors.
Authorized Amyx to sign a letter to the Kansas Department of Revenue protesting what the county feels is an excessive amount of documentation required by the Division of Property Valuation with the county clerk's 1989 tax abstract. The letter is being sent along with the abstract, which lists the assessed value, mill levy and taxes assessed.
Authorized Amyx to sign the memo to all county department heads, outlining spending deferrals that will allow the county to carry about $500,000 from the 1989 budget over to 1990.
Authorized Amyx to sign a letter to the Kansas Department of Commerce, requesting one more year to spend remaining grant money for the Lone Star Lake spillway, damaged in the June 1988 flood. The county needs the time extension so it can complete the engineering design work funded by the grant.