Commissioners Hear Concerns Over Special Ballot Question

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City Commissioners heard concerns from residents about the July 14 Save Our Streets Special Ballot Question during Tuesday’s meeting, before moving forward with a full agenda of city business.

Nine individuals spoke during Public Hearing concerning the early registration deadline created by state statute KSA 25-2311, which caused voter registration to end in the City of Atchison in late June, rather than July 12 – the deadline for the rest of the state. The statute says that registration must be closed 20 days preceding the day of any election – which includes special ballot questions. As a result, some of the people speaking Tuesday asked for the city to cancel the July 14 special election, which is already underway.

“We don’t have any control over voter registration deadlines – those are set by state law,” Assistant City Manager Joe Warren said. “We do feel bad that some people may not have been aware of the alternate timeline set due to the existence of a special ballot question being a few weeks from the Primary date. We have followed state law throughout this process. The election is already underway with absentee and advance voting already taking place. It would be unfair to those who met the registration deadline and have already cast a vote to cancel or move the election now.”

Commissioners did not take action on the ballot question, allowing it to proceed as scheduled, but did express empathy for those who spoke during the public hearing and missed the deadline to register in time for the special ballot question or the Aug. 2 Primary.

Commissioners did act on the items in the business agenda, which included vacating land near the MGP industrial site, as well as a construction and utility easement for MGP along 12th Street. Commissioners approved a grading and fill contract near Forest Park as part of the Evergy construction project there, approved extending the annual agreement with NetWork Kansas, and authorized the sale of property at 8478 Pratt Road to the lone bidder.

Commissioners also approved the consent agenda, which included an amendment to the KDHE Consent Agreement regarding CSO separation, authorized designated signors for checks and wire transfers on behalf of the City, and authorized changing the title of the position of Director of Administrative Services & Assistant City Manager to Finance Director & Assistant City Manager.

The regular meeting was held Tuesday because of the Fourth of July holiday. There will be a special city commission meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, July 11, in the commission room for the purposes of having a budget workshop.