After alleged violations in rural fire districts came to the attention of the Bourbon County Commission and the county attorney, the county leaders began to work with District 13 Kansas Senator Jacob LaTurner to create a bill that would help ease the process and create better transparency with the districts.
County Attorney Justin Meeks said they determined no violations had been made when records had first been requested from the fire district by the township as an open record and then through an audit, since the necessary funding had ever been paid.
However, the circumstance opened another issue since only the township can request such an audit. Currently the commission has no jurisdiction over the fire districts or townships other than to appoint or approve township board members.
The proposed bill, which is to go through a hearing Thursday, would provide another means for getting an audit through the commission, who could request the audit if residents of the township bring probable cause to their attention.
“I think we’ll get it done,” LaTurner said during a meeting with the commission Tuesday morning. “I don’t know why anyone would oppose it.”
The township would still be responsible for paying for the audit, which could already be the key issue in having one done in some townships. If a fire district is located in more than one township, than the cost of the audit could be divided among the townships.
The bill would only apply the new statute to Bourbon County, though LaTurner said he believed it could be beneficial to other Kansas counties as well. If passed, the bill would go into effect as soon as it becomes a statute.
“It’s hard for me to imagine that we’re the only ones who have run into this,” commission chairman Barbara Albright said.
County leaders will draft a letter of support for the bill prior to the hearing. A copy of the bill can be found at the following link: http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2015_16/measures/documents/sb476_00_0000.pdf