Topeka governing body places liens on properties owing utility bills that total more than $138,000

Mayor Larry Wolgast spoke Tuesday evening as Topeka’s governing body honored Washburn Institute of Technology students who finished at or near the top in the USA Skills competition. (Tim Hrenchir/The Capital-Journal)

Topeka’s governing body voted 10-0 Tuesday evening to place real estate liens on 140 properties with unpaid utility bills.

 

The owners owe the city a total of $138,301.41, said deputy utilities director Braxton Copley.

When a municipality records a lien against someone’s property, the amount involved is placed on that property’s tax rolls for collection.

Nineteen of the unpaid bills, with delinquencies totaling more than $39,000, involve developer Kent Lindemuth.

The ordinance identifies 12 properties owned by KDL Inc. owing a total of $34,769.55 and six owing a total of $4,543.34 owned by Lindemuth Inc. — both companies Lindemuth owns — plus an unpaid bill of $79.80 for a property he personally co-owns at 2114 S.W. Seabrook Ave.

Councilwoman Sylvia Ortiz said she planned to call six people she knew on the list of those who owe money. She asked utilities director Braxton Copley what people can do if they wish to pay. Copley suggested they call the city at (785) 368-3111.

The city’s governing body, which consists of the nine city council members and Mayor Larry Wolgast — also voted 9-1 Tuesday, with Ortiz dissenting, to change the date from Sept. 12 to Oct. 3 for a planned public hearing.

The governing body during the hearing will consider adopting a redevelopment project plan for the proposed $100 million Wheatfield Village development at the northwest corner of S.W. 29th and Fairlawn Road.

Interim city manager Doug Gerber said it was prudent to reschedule the hearing because the developers were increasing from 1.5 percent to 2 percent the proposed sales tax assessment for the community improvement district they’re requesting for the project.

In other business, governing body members:

--Heard Councilwoman Michelle De La Isla, former executive director of Topeka Habitat for Humanity, say the city of Topeka stands against racial slurs such as those recently painted on three homes built by Topeka Habitat in the 3300 block of S.E. Powell. De La Isla made reference to a letter the governing body recently received from Topeka Habitat’s executive director, Janice Watkins.

-- Voted 10-0 to defer action until their Oct. 17 meeting on one proposal that would formally create a utilities department consisting of the water distribution, stormwater and water pollution control divisions, and another that would make the utilities director responsible for all operations related to those divisions. Councilman Tony Emerson, chairman of a committee that recently made numerous amendments to the measures, said the deferral was needed because “last-minute issues” came up with both.

--Voted 10-0 to allocate $4,900 that remained available through the city’s neighborhood event and beautification grant program, with $2,400 going to the annual Potwin Circles Holiday Display in the Potwin neighborhood and $2,500 to the “First Impressions” beautification program initiated by the Home Owners Association at Huntington Condominiums.

-- Voted 9-0-1, with Councilman Brendan Jensen abstaining, to reallocate transient guest tax funding the city awarded to the Historic Jayhawk Theater Inc. by shifting $155,000 initially planned to be used for marquee construction to be used to develop complete architectural construction documents. Jensen, a board member for the theater, abstained.

--Heard a presentation but took no action regarding scheduling an Oct. 3 public hearing on potentially establishing a Community Improvement District for NSI Investments’ proposed project to redevelop property at 240 S.E. 29th, which includes a former Kmart building.

--Heard Jonathan Schumm, a former councilman who is again seeking a council seat in the Nov. 7 election, ask them to find money to enable the city’s neighborhood improvement associations to publish newsletters for the year’s last three months. Schumm said the city’s neighborhood relations department has indicated it lacks funding to finance the printing of those newsletters.

--Honored Washburn Institute of Technology students who finished at or near the top nationally in the SkillsUSA competition

--Voted 9-0, with Wolgast not having a vote, to appoint Rick Stones to the Topeka Sustainability Advisory Board; reappoint Don Moses and Theresa Packard to the Topeka Americans with Disabilities Act Advisory Council; and appoint Topeka police officer Shawn Kimble and reappoint Joel Cromwell to the Shawnee County Community Corrections Advisory Board.

Contact reporter Tim Hrenchir at (785) 295-1184 or @timhrenchir on Twitter.

 

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