Jim Kaup believes incorporation would be the best option for governance of Green Valley — the rapidly growing area in the southwest portion of Pottawatomie County.
Kaup, owner of Kaup Law Office, Topeka, which specializes in land-use law for Kansas municipalities, made that recommendation Monday to the Pott County Commission.
“If I were calling the shots, I would be promoting incorporation,” Kaup said. “If I was a composite of all those (Green Valley residents) surveyed, that’s the way I would go because of control. I would have control.”
Local control was Kaup’s primary reason for recommending incorporation over annexation, most likely by the city of Manhattan.
“If I’m in Green Valley, I would be concerned about being taken in by another city,” he said. “I don’t live there, but if I did I’d like to be able to control my own destiny.”
Kaup was hired by the county to develop a Green Valley Neighborhood Plan to address options for financing public services for a community which, in the not-too-distant future, will likely surpass Wamego as having the largest population in the county.
Public services for the Green Valley area (law enforcement, ambulance, road construction and maintenance, etc.) are currently financed by the county at-large.
“Is that sustainable?” Kaup asked commissioners.
While there was no definitive consensus, at least one commissioner indicated it was not.
“Quite honestly, sitting up here and trying to govern that area over there is not easy and it’s probably not in their (Green Valley residents) best interest,” said Commissioner Travis Altenhofen. “It’s Civics 101 — local control.”
Altenhofen noted that the commission — by asking developers to help pay for new roadways — has already indicated the inability of the county at-large to finance the area’s infrastructure needs.
Besides incorporation and annexation, Kaup offered other options for financing services for Green Valley: the formation of improvement districts, special districts or benefit districts, and governance by Blue Township.
Kaup cited a study by Wichita State University which predicted that in the 30-year span from 2014-44, the population of Pottawatomie County was expected to increase by 54 percent — more than any other county in Kansas. Much of that growth will likely be in Green Valley and Blue Township area, which has a current population of between 3,500 and 4,000.
“When you get a certain number of rooftops, you’re going to have business coming in,” Kaup said. “That increases the demand for services and if those services aren’t provided by a city, who’s going to provide them?”
The county cannot force incorporation or annexation on an area. Either option must be initiated by a city or the landowners. Both options mean another level of taxation, and Commissioner Pat Weixelman questioned whether Green Valley residents would be willing to change the status quo.
“If the wheels haven’t come off, the people are going to keep sitting on the wagon because the ride’s free,” Weixelman said.
Results of the Green Valley Neighborhood Plan will be presented during a town hall meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, in the National Guard Armory on Levee Drive.
In other action Monday:
Reorganized for 2019, electing Altenhofen (2-1) as chairman and Weixelman (3-0) as vice-chair.
Commissioner Dee McKee voted against Altenhofen as chairman, noting that he had not attended orientation sessions for new commissioners offered through the Kansas Association of Counties.
“That makes a difference, a big difference,” McKee said.
“So you think going to meetings is all it takes?” Altenhofen replied.
“I think what was just said was totally uncalled for,” Weixelman added.
Welcomed Catherine Seitz’s fourth-grade class from Westmoreland Elementary, which is currently studying social studies.
Bayer Construction, Manhattan, submitted the apparent low bid of $679,103 for infrastructure improvements for Wildcat Woods Subdivision, Unit 3.
The engineer’s estimate for the improvements was $690,034. Public Works Director Peter Clark was to review the bids and make a recommendation.
Adopted resolutions, following public hearings, to annex Whispering Meadows Unit 6 and Heritage Hills Unit 1 into the Blue Township Sewer District.
Accepted the low bid of 3.35 percent from Kaw Valley State Bank, Wamego, to finance $200,000 for lease-purchase of a new pumper truck for Fire District 5 (Blue Township).
IN THE WEEDS
Heard a year-end review from Tim Eisenbarth, Noxious Weed director. Eisenbarth recapped totals for chemical sales, right-of-way spraying, special projects and recycling for 2018.
The commission also approved the 2019 contract with the Kansas Department of Transportation for spraying state highway right-of-way in the county.