Shawnee County D.A. receives $200K to pay costs dealing with court expansion

Shawnee County will provide District Attorney Mike Kagay $200,000 in contingency money to cover additional costs his office will incur dealing with the expansion of Shawnee County District Court’s criminal court from five divisions to six.

 

County Commissioners Bob Archer, Kevin Cook and Shelly Buhler voted 3-0 Monday to approve the move, which Kagay said would enable his office to effectively prosecute all criminal cases assigned to the new criminal division.

“That’s why we set contingency funds aside, is to have money when extraordinary and unforeseen things happen,” Archer said.

Kagay worked with the county’s finance team to arrange to cover additional costs resulting from the move, Archer said.

Buhler said she appreciated that Kagay met individually with commissioners when — after they voted Aug. 17 to approve the 2018 budget for Shawnee County, including the district attorney’s office — Kagay learned the court planned to switch one division from civil to criminal.

“The additional staffing needs were unforeseen because the district attorney’s office was not notified of the court’s intent until after the 2018 (county) budget approval,” Kagay told commissioners in an Oct. 25 memo. “The new division is expected to begin with the appointment of the next district court judge.”

Kagay told commissioners Monday it costs his office $250,000 to staff a division. He indicated he intended to cover that in the new criminal division using $50,000 commissioners added to his budget in August plus the $200,000 in funding approved Monday.

The district attorney’s office’s costs to staff each division include roughly $125,000 to cover the salary and benefits of a senior prosecutor and about $75,000 to cover the salary and benefits of a junior prosecutor, Kagay said.

Commissioners on Monday also heard from public works and solid waste department director Tom Vlach about an award Shawnee County received for its Willard Bridge replacement project, which is nearing completion, at last week’s Kansas Association of Counties conference.

Shawnee County received first place in the County Public Improvement Award category for counties with a population of 10,000 or more.

“It’s nice to see that our work is acknowledged, and it was great to receive the award in front of all our colleagues from across the state,” Buhler said.

In other business, commissioners:

— Voted 3-0 to solicit proposals from companies interested in providing and installing a new emergency escape hatch from the sub-basement to the northwest parking lot sidewalk area at the county courthouse, 200 S.E. 7th. The current vertical shaft, which has been in place about 50 years, is badly deteriorated, said facilities maintenance director Bill Kroll.

— Voted 3-0 to authorize county counselor Jim Crowl to file judicial tax foreclosure proceedings against an unspecified number of properties for which property taxes haven’t been paid within the time limits set by state law. In such cases, the property becomes eligible to be sold by the county at auction to help collect the delinquent taxes.

— Voted 3-0 to approve a change order revising and finalizing the county’s contract with Mohan Construction for work at the county courthouse. The order revises the substantial completion date to Dec. 22 and increases the county’s costs by $17,419 to a final price of $517,213.

— Heard a report on the county’s finances for the first 10 months of this year from administrative services director Betty Greiner. She said the county’s revenues totaled $100,539,136, compared to a budgeted amount of $100,397,930. Expenses totaled $84,665,678, compared to a budgeted amount of $86,751,553.

— Heard Kansas Expocentre general manager Kellen Seitz say the facility’s revenues for the recent Blizzard Bash demolition derby were 25 to 30 percent higher than what it had budgeted to bring in.

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

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