Bank starts foreclosure proceedings against Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern’s home

An attorney for U.S. Bank last Friday filed a civil suit seeking a mortgage foreclosure on the west Lawrence home of Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern, according to Douglas County District Court records.

The suit alleges McGovern and his wife, Rebecca F. McGovern, the owners of 4029 Harvard Road, are in default and have failed since Feb. 1 to make payments due under the 2009 note and mortgage. The McGoverns owe $161,726 with interest, according to the suit. A legal notice of the suit appeared in Thursday’s Journal-World.

“Since my wife and I had been in discussion for some time to resolve this situation, we were surprised the bank took this legal step without informing us,” McGovern said. “Being a personal financial matter, I won’t go into much detail other than to say my wife owns a small business, and the family finances are affected by her small business.”

Rebecca McGovern owns a Lawrence salon and spa.

“As is the case with many small businesses in these economic times, her business is struggling, which impacts our personal finances,” he said. “Because of our cooperative discussions with the bank, we are confident this legal action will be dismissed.”

Assistant Douglas County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said McGovern’s current salary is $118,518.40. McGovern, a longtime sheriff’s officer who has served in virtually every facet of the department since 1982, was elected without opposition in 2004, and he won a second term in 2008, also as an uncontested candidate.

According to county records, the sheriff office’s proposed budget for 2012 is about $10.3 million. County officials estimate the sheriff’s 2011 budget will come in $276,025 less than the $10.48 million initially budgeted. Plinsky said McGovern’s office also came in under its allocated budget in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The sheriff’s office also oversees the sale process of foreclosed properties if a mortgage foreclosure reaches that point.

McGovern said that in the last three years his office, due to the financial crisis, has seen a major increase in the number of sheriff’s sales scheduled: 336 in 2010 compared with 151 in 2007. Last year 110 property owners were able to resolve their situations before they ended in a sale, he said.

“My own situation has brought me to a deeper personal understanding of the effect the current economic downturn has had on the citizens of Douglas County,” he said. “I and my staff will continue to effectively and efficiently serve the people of Douglas County and in doing so be sensitive to their needs.”

Online Douglas County District Court records show three previous civil suits filed by Chase Mortgage Co. against Ken and Rebecca McGovern in 1999, 2000 and 2001 — before he was elected sheriff — but all were dismissed within a month.