October 31, 2014

Board uses questionable procedure to replace exiting members

Despite the questionable process of replacing recently-elected Shelta Collins, who resigned from the USD 231 board of education, and Tim Rayburn, who will resign at some future date, two good candidates were selected: Mary Nelson, senior vice-president at Metcalf Bank and Tresa Boden, a former USD 231 director of health services.
The district’s flawed replacement policy in no way reflects upon the qualifications of these candidates, who we hope will serve Gardner Edgerton School District patrons well.
Rather the marred process reflects on those presiding over it: Bill Gilhaus, returning superintendent, back after a two-month retirement absence; Tim Rayburn, USD 231 board president, who voted on his replacement; and the advice of Joe Hatley, the district’s legal counsel.
It appears these three believe the end justifies the means, and by stringing two state statutes together – K.S.A. 25-2022 having to do with filling vacant positions and K.S.A. 25-2023, which deals with elections – the trio created a new non-democratic process – choosing and voting on your own successor.
The one shining light during the entire process was Brad Chandler, newly-elected board member, who objected to the process. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a board member who has not only researched the issue, but isn’t too intimidated by peer pressure to speak up for those who elected him.
Chandler quoted the Kansas Association of School Board’s handbook, which indicates the selection process can only begin once a vacancy occurs.
K.S.A. 25-2022 reads, “When a vacancy occurs, the board shall publish a notice one time in a newspaper having general circulation in the school district stating that the vacancy has occurred and that it will be filled by appointment by the board not sooner than fifteen (15) days after such publication.”
The board clearly violated the statute; resignations had not been accepted by the board when the notice was published , and the board did not publicly direct the publication of vacancy notice, the acting superintendent did.
In addition, while the selection process should have been directed by the board, instead, Gilhaus wrote the cover letter for candidate questions and appears to have played a major role in the selection process.
Sorry guys, none of this passes the smell test.
District patrons should be outraged. We are.

Comments

  1. Judith Rogers says:

    Worthless politicians and bureaucrats bring about oodles of questionable procedures and they certainly work for themselves and the thieves rather than average citizens who are about the only entities who pay their FULL taxes. And they get by with it and it has got to the horrendous level it is at because of the apathy of the people and since they are NOT doing their jobs. They keep enabling and supporting these lowlifes who are putting a knife in their backs every day of the week.

    So many issues that need to be addressed and ONE of the issues I have been working on for the past several years is that of the fraudulent “farm” appraisals that are present within our cities, towns, villages and across the state of Kansas and the nation. I continue to slowly review each and every one of these “farm” properties within the city of Gardner and my work has shown to me that most of them are fraudulent and taking millions/billions of dollars from taxpayers who, in my opinion, cannot afford the loss of this tax revenue – it results in the financial raping of average citizens far and wide.

    Here is an article on this issue taken from the KC Star printed this week. The people have got to get their heads on straight and demand some honesty, integrity, ethics, character, etc. within their communities – if they don’t, they will continue to pay a high price to the piper who is laughing his or her way to the bank. Paul Welcome, the Jo. Co. Appraiser, has to be dragged to the table to do his job so I hope the taxpayers don’t expect him to do the right thing to any great extent, however, if these questionnaires get some properties on the tax rolls as they should be then it will be fine with me but much more will have to occur to get these thieves from doing what they are doing. My gut tells me that Paul Welcome is only sending out these questionnaires at this time because of some outside pressure put on him to do so. The legislators need to act but I don’t have much faith in them doing the right thing since most of the lowlifes work for these thieves in so many ways. Again only the CITIZENS can take care of the dark side affects of cronyism and lousy government and they, themselves, will have to have some strong moral values to get it done.

    NEWSPAPER ARTICLE ON “FARM” APPRAISALS
    SEPTEMBER 2013

    KANSAS CITY STAR

    Joco spotlight
    County appraiser’s land surveys court controversy
    September 23
    By ROXIE HAMMILL
    Special to The Star

    A new survey sent to some owners of agricultural property in Johnson County is meant to get a more accurate picture of the use of the land for tax purposes, says County Appraiser Paul Welcome.

    Some 6,000 landowners received a questionnaire this year asking for a detailed description of how their agricultural property is used. The survey asked for the date of last harvest, type of crop and documentation of lease and tenant information, among other things. The results will be used, along with aerial images and inspections, to decide how the land will be classified for tax purposes.

    In sending the surveys, Johnson County is following the lead of Douglas, Miami and Sedgwick counties, which have used similar questionnaires for the past couple of years, Welcome said.

    Inaccurately classified land can end up costing the county in lost revenue. A lot in a future subdivision could have a market value of $30,000. With an agricultural classification, it may be worth only $10, which would be a difference of $350 to $400 in taxes paid.

    But Welcome said the surveys are not an attempt to improve the county’s bottom line. As county appraiser, Welcome said he is only concerned that the classification is accurate.

    “It’s a best practices issue for us,” Welcome said.

    There are 13,000 parcels of land in the county classified as agricultural, he said. But the surveys were only sent to owners of land that had been platted, as it would be if a subdivision were going in. Surveying the platted land allows the county to put the focus on questionable property, he said. The surveys are meant to supplement aerial photography and staff inspections that the county has been using for years, he said.

    The surveys were sent in August and have an Oct. 15 deadline. Responding is voluntary, he said, but the letter warns that a landowner who fails to do so runs the risk of a classification change from agricultural to fair market value.

    The appraiser’s office has received more than 50 calls and an increase in visitors since the surveys went out, Welcome said.

    “The vast majority have been very positive that what we’re trying to do is correct,” Welcome said.

    The survey has not been popular with everyone, however. Some have grumbled that the questionnaire is intrusive and an example of government overreach.

    Agricultural appraisal has been a touchy issue in Johnson County because of the way it has been used by developers. Last year, The Star revealed that Wal-Mart paid just $53 on a 20-acre tract of land it bought with plans to develop it into a new store. That land already had streetlights and roads, but was claimed as agricultural for tax purposes.

    In fact, a former Olathe mayor, Doug Knop, is now a property tax consultant who is advising clients to spread a few seeds around every fall to get an agricultural classification.

    Such advice has held up in Kansas courts. The legal requirements for agricultural use are minimal. Seeds don’t necessarily have to sprout, for instance.

    Welcome said the extra information will be kept confidential, in keeping with state law, and will be help the appraiser staff be more efficient and accurate.

    “I don’t care about the tax dollars. All I care about is classification” and its accuracy, he said.

  2. It will be interesting what spin the superintendent puts on this. I’m sure it’s for our own good. Just like rehiring him was for our good. The only good it was for are his pockets. Shame. Shame. Shame.

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