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Archive for Wednesday, August 1, 2001

AG to sort out Oz deadline

August 1, 2001

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— Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer wants to know if he has the authority to extend the deadline for a $400,000 payment by developers of a Wizard of Oz theme park.

Monday, Sherrer asked the state Attorney General's Office for an opinion on whether he has the authority to give the developers more time to pay Wyandotte County's Board of Public Utilities.

A law passed earlier this year included an October deadline for the payment. But Oz Entertainment Co. and the utility board are negotiating to give the company an extra year to repay the money.

Also, the law says the money should be repaid "as ... determined by the secretary of commerce and housing."

Sherrer, who also serves as the commerce secretary, wants to know how much discretion he has in approving a settlement assuming there is one between Oz and the Board of Public Utilities.

"I'm not telling anybody what I'm going to do once this comes out, but I need to know what range I have to work in," Sherrer said Monday.

Earlier this month, Rep. John Ballou, R-Gardner, filed a request similar to Sherrer's.

"I want to know whether the attorney general thinks the Board of Public Utilities can do anything," said Ballou, whose district includes the proposed theme park. "The way the law is written, there's a set date. There isn't anything in there about making deals."

The new law says that after July 1, Oz developers have 120 days to pay back the $400,000, which the Board of Public Utilities gave Oz in 1991 for a feasibility study on putting the park in Wyandotte County. The company later decided to locate the park in Johnson County near DeSoto.

Oz also is expected to pay back $150,000 to the unified government of Kansas City and Wyandotte County.

A spokeswoman for Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall's office said the opinions would be ready in early to mid-September.

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