Dennis O’Brien leaves controversy-ridden Silver Lake Township board

In this file photo, Silver Lake Township board members Dennis W. O’Brien, right, and Greg Abbott, center, spoke at the May 22 meeting of that board. O’Brien recently resigned his position on that board. (May 2017 file photo/The Capital-Journal)

Dennis O’Brien says only that “personal reasons” caused him to resign as Silver Lake Township treasurer.

 

“We’ll just leave it at that,” he said when contacted Monday morning by telephone at his home.

Still, O’Brien leaves at a time when the three-member township board — for which members are elected by the public — has been embroiled in controversy.

Shawnee County Commissioner Shelly Buhler, who represents a district that includes Silver Lake Township, told fellow commissioners Bob Archer and Kevin Cook Monday that she’s gotten “quite a few calls” from people who shared opinions regarding that board.

Commissioners voted 3-0 Monday to acknowledge they’d received a letter from O’Brien announcing his resignation.

O’Brien and township board member Greg Abbott clashed during a May 22 meeting, where Abbott suggested making a decision in executive session and O’Brien responded that the board makes decisions in public, according to a Capital-Journal article.

The article added that after residents raised questions about the condition of the township’s cemetery, which was reportedly maintained by relatives of Abbott’s, O’Brien responded, “Nepotism is not the best way to go.”

The county commission in January appointed Abbott, who was the only applicant for the trustee’s position on the Silver Lake board. His seat next comes up for a public vote next year.

Buhler asked county counselor Jim Crowl Monday whether Shawnee County had any oversight over the boards for the 12 townships located here, including Silver Lake.

Crowl replied that the county commission appoints members of those boards whenever someone steps down but has no control over the actions the board takes. The person appointed to fill the vacancy holds it only until the next election.

Commissioners will now appoint a replacement for O’Brien. Anyone interested in holding that position should email their qualifications and information to commission@snco.us, bring that information to the commission office or mail it to the commission at the Shawnee County Courthouse, Room B-11, 200 S.E. 7th, Topeka KS 66603- 3933.

Commissioners also voted 3-0 Monday to acknowledge that a notice had been published in The Topeka Capital-Journal informing the public the commission would receive comments about the county’s requested 2018 budget at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 3 in its chambers.

The requested budget contains a combination of requests from department heads, elected officials and organizations seeking county funding. They seek funding in amounts that, if approved in their entirety, would raise the property tax levy the county assesses by 2.76 mills, from 48.345 to 51.099.

Such an increase would amount to an additional $31.74 in property taxes assessed by the county to the owner of a $100,000 home. However, the commission has historically made cuts from requests before finalizing the budget, which it is required to do by Aug. 25.

Commissioners have already decided the county will not exceed a tax lid enacted on local municipalities by the Kansas Legislature, said Betty Greiner, the county’s director of administrative services.

Commissioners also voted 3-0 Monday to contract to pay $2,995 to Meredith Corporation for a quarter page of space to advertise the county’s parks and recreation department in the 2018 Kansas Travel Guide. The move continues an arrangement the county previously had in place.

In addition, they voted 3-0 to approve proposed bylaws for the Shawnee County Parks and Recreation Advisory/Advocate Board.

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

 

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