Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

'Bold Move': City Seeks More Votes for Governing Body Members on JEDO Board

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

'Bold Move': City Seeks More Votes for Governing Body Members on JEDO Board

Article excerpt

In what Mayor Larry Wolgast called a "bold move," Topeka's governing body on Tuesday evening added wording to a proposed contract with Shawnee County calling for the number of city governing body members with voting rights on the Joint Economic Development Organization board to increase from four to 10.

Governing body members then voted 8-1-1 to approve the proposed contract, which goes back before the Shawnee County Commission. Both the city governing body and the commission must approve the contract for it to take effect.

Wolgast and council members Karen Hiller, Sandra Clear, Michelle De La Isla, Brendan Jensen, Elaine Schwartz, Jeff Coen and Richard Harmon voted in favor of the contract.

Councilwoman Sylvia Ortiz dissented, suggesting county commissioners would reject the increase in city voting members on the JEDO board.

Ortiz said: "We want it. I bet they don't want it. It's coming back to us. So then what do we do?"

Councilman Jonathan Schumm said he abstained because he serves on the Kansas Expocentre Advisory Board and the proposed contract includes $45 million for Expocentre improvements.

Shawnee County voters approved a ballot question Nov. 6, 2014, extending for 15 years -- from Jan. 1, 2017, until Dec. 31, 2031 -- the current countywide half-cent sales tax used to raise revenue for economic development and infrastructure improvements. The ballot question listed the purposes the extension would finance but not the amounts they would receive.

County commissioners on Nov. 20, 2014, approved a proposed interlocal agreement outlining how much money would go for each purpose. The city governing body has made multiple revisions to the county-approved version in recent months.

The city governing body voted 10-0 Tuesday to adopt two amendments suggested by the city attorney's office clarifying wording in the contract. …

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