LANSING—The question of who is the governing body of the Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1 has been answered for the moment in Lansing, at least while a lawsuit is pending in District Court.
District Judge David King announced Tuesday that he was issuing an order to preserve what he called the status quo until he can have a hearing on a petition for a declaratory judgment. This order requires the governing of Fire District No. 1, which provides fire department services to the city of Lansing and Delaware and High Prairie townships, to remain under the control of its existing board of trustees.
In a petition was filed last week on behalf of Leavenworth County commissioners, the commissioners argued an interlocal agreement concerning Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1 expired Tuesday and control of the fire district should now shift to the county commission.
The fire district is governed by a board whose members were appointed by representatives of Lansing and the two townships.
The process for appointing people to the fire district’s board of trustees was established through a 2003 interlocal agreement that was signed by representatives of Lansing, the two townships and the county commission, as well as an assistant attorney general for Kansas.
County commissioners now argue the interlocal agreement has now expired because the Lansing City Council gave notice in December 2018 that they intended to terminate the agreement at the end of June of this year. Commissioners argue the fire district’s board of trustees should dissolve with the expiration of the agreement.
Lansing city officials have expressed an intent to establish a city-operated fire department.
They have said that termination of the agreement should result in the fire district’s assets being divided among the parties. But this issue is being disputed in a separate court case that is now before the Kansas Court of Appeals.
Last month, members of the Lansing City Council voted to rescind their termination notice, thinking this would leave the board of trustees in control of the fire district. However, county commissioners argue the agreement does not allow the council to rescind the notice.
The petition for declaratory judgment was filed to seek a judge’s ruling regarding whether the agreement has expired.
An attorney for the county commissioners also filed a motion for a temporary injunction to prevent other parties from interfering with the county’s management of Fire District No. 1 and to prohibit the existing board of trustees from maintaining control over fire district records and equipment.
King, who conducted a hearing on the motion for a temporary injunction Tuesday through videoconferencing and live-streamed internet, said there is a public interest in getting the matter resolved as soon as possible. He scheduled a case management conference for July 21.