Hillsboro to join suit against Graves’ plan to cut funding to cities

by Don Ratzlaff

Hillsboro will join a growing number of city and county governing bodies across the state as plaintiffs in a lawsuit that will challenge Gov. Bill Graves’ decision to cut state funding that already had been approved for their use.

The Hillsboro City Council voted 3-0 to join the lawsuit at a special meeting Wednesday afternoon. The deadline for joining was to be noon Thursday.

The governor’s proposal to cut funding to cities in response to the state’s budget crisis could cost Hillsboro $135,000. It would take a local property-tax increase of 11 mills to replace that much funding, according to Mayor Delores Dalke.

The lawsuit is being filed on behalf the cities by the League of Kansas Municipalities. According to Dalke, lawyers for LKM say the governor’s proposal violates a state statute that dictates that such cuts can only be made by the legislature, not the governor. Dalke serves on the executive of LKM.

“We are getting cities from across the state to sign on because we feel the more cities that sign, the more impact it’s going to make,” she said.

Participating in the lawsuit will not cost the city anything, she added, because LKM is filing it.

Councilor Leonard Coryea made the motion to join the lawsuit. Byron McCarty seconded the motion and Shelby Dirks added his vote. Matt Hiebert was not present.

City Administrator Steven Garrett said an LKM staff member told him that 137 governing entities had signed on by mid-afternoon Wednesday. About 97 of those had joined on Wednesday alone.

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