Archive for Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mayor cries foul over ‘wasteful spending’ accusations

Basehor Mayor Terry Hill gives an update on city government developments during his State of the City address at the Basehor Chamber of Commerce meeting Jan. 27 at Community National Bank in Basehor.

Basehor Mayor Terry Hill gives an update on city government developments during his State of the City address at the Basehor Chamber of Commerce meeting Jan. 27 at Community National Bank in Basehor.

February 15, 2012

More details

Want to dive deeper into this story? The downloadable documents below offer more information.

• The "Wasteful spending by the mayor" chart is the document on which this story focuses, distributed by a group supporting the recall of Basehor Mayor Terry Hill.

• The City of Basehor expense details offer more information about some of the expenditures listed in the "Wasteful spending" chart. This document accounts for about $9,700 worth of the roughly $10,800 in expenditures listed in the original chart. It was provided by the city in response to a records request by Maureen Weiss, who is a member of the committee seeking to recall Basehor City Council members Dennis Mertz and Iris Dysart.

• The Basehor mayor's purchasing card records, provided to the Sentinel by the city of Basehor, list all of the expenditures made with Hill's city-issued purchasing card during 2010 and 2011. In 2010, those purchases added up to about $830, and in 2011 they totaled about $400.

• And the Clarifications on "Wasteful Spending" chart provide some more information about city expenditures, budgets and auditing. This information was provided in response to Weiss' records request by Basehor City Clerk Corey Swisher.

Related document

Basehor recall petitions

Previous Sentinel coverage of the efforts to recall Basehor City Council members Dennis Mertz and Iris Dysart and Basehor Mayor Terry Hill:

Oct. 31: Residents launch effort to recall Mertz, Dysart over Loughry firing

Nov. 2: Mertz, Dysart deny recall group's accusations

Nov. 14: New recall petition targets mayor

Nov. 22: Mayor responds in letter to residents

Dec. 7: Recall email raises concerns

Dec. 20: Election set for Feb. 28

Jan. 12: Judge rules for mayor's recall election to continue

At the top is a title: “Wasteful spending by the Mayor.” At the bottom-right is a total: more than $10,000.

But in between, the story is complicated.

The “Wasteful spending” chart, included in a letter sent to Basehor residents in January by a group promoting the recall of Mayor Terry Hill, lists about 60 charges paid to restaurants, a golf course and other businesses between June 2010 and December 2011. According to city records, though, only about $530 worth of the $10,800 in expenditures listed was made by the mayor, and some of the other funds listed were reimbursed or rebated to the city.

Hill, whose inclusion on the Feb. 28 Basehor recall ballot was confirmed by a court ruling last week, said the chart is misleading and unfair. He believes it has created an impression in some voters’ minds that he has spent five figures’ worth of money on his city purchasing card, which is not true.

“The word just keeps coming back to me that they just don’t understand how I could spend that much money on the city charge card,” Hill said.

Marilyn Townsend, a member of the Citizens for Responsible Governing group that sent the letter containing the chart, said she believed the charges represented excessive spending by the city government under Hill’s watch, even if he did not personally make the purchases.

“I just think there’s a lot of wasteful spending going on,” Townsend said. “I just think the public doesn’t realize how much money is being spent.”

Hill, though, said he believed the table, labeled, “Wasteful spending by the Mayor,” gave the impression he spent the money himself.

Elaine Bundy, another Basehor resident seeking Hill’s recall, said she was not sure how many letters containing the chart were mailed, but she said it was more than 100. Basehor resident Bob Moore said he had compiled the list of charges by looking at bank statements for the 15 purchasing cards the city of Basehor has issued to employees and the mayor.

According to bank records provided to the Sentinel by the city of Basehor, 18 of the 62 charges listed in the “Wasteful spending” chart were actually from the mayor’s city-issued purchasing card. Those expenditures, all of which were made at restaurants and gasoline stations, added up to about $530 of the chart’s listed total of about $10,800.

According to city records provided in response to a records request made by a Basehor resident earlier this month, the gasoline-station purchases were for gasoline for the mayor’s city-issued car. 
As for the restaurant purchases — made at restaurants in Basehor, Mission and Kansas City, Kan. — Hill has told the Sentinel in the past he occasionally meets with city council members, developers, job candidates and others to discuss city business over lunch, an expense he pays with his city purchasing card. Sometimes those lunches have taken place in the Village West area or near his place of employment in Johnson County, he said, so he could avoid driving back to Basehor from his office in Fairway.

Corey Swisher, Basehor city clerk and finance director, said all the expenditures listed in the “Wasteful spending” chart were actually made by the city, and all complied with the city’s purchasing policy. Purchases not made by the mayor were made by city staff members.

In response to the records request made by a resident earlier this month, the city provided explanations for some of the larger charges listed on the chart. 
The largest expenditure listed, just less than $4,000, was paid to Ingram’s, a Kansas City-area business magazine, for an ad promoting the city of Basehor. Most of that cost was reimbursed to the city by the Basehor-Linwood school district and other local groups and businesses; the city’s share was about $700.

Three charges from Dell, adding up to about $3,600, were for desktop computers for the offices of the mayor, city administrator and code enforcement officer. Four charges at Falcon Lakes Golf Club in Basehor, totaling about $870, came from retreats held in spring 2011 for the Basehor City Council and city employees to plan projects and budgets for the next year.

In all, according to city records, Hill made about $830 in purchases on his city-issued card in 2010 and about $400 in 2011. Not all of those charges are on the opposition’s list.

Kim Winn, deputy director of the League of Kansas Municipalities, said it was normal for cities to give discretionary spending authority to a mayor or city employees. It's up to the city's governing body — in Basehor's case, the city council — to establish limits on that spending ability, she said.

“Generally, governing bodies focus on policy,” Winn said, “and you really don't want them to focus on buying paper clips.”

The city's current purchasing policy, approved by the city council in 2010, allows the mayor to make purchases up to $500 without soliciting quotes from potential vendors.

Hill said he would not object if voters chose to recall him if they feel his spending has been excessive.

“Let’s have a disagreement of opinion, but let’s not use wrong facts,” Hill said.

The mayor added that his responsibility is to see that the city stays within its annual budget, which is set by the city council and not the mayor. He said he believed the city had done “an exemplary job” keeping within its budget during his time as mayor.

Townsend said she also wanted to leave the issue up to voters. “We live in a democracy,” she said, “and if people are OK by what’s spent down there, then I won’t fight it.”

This story has been corrected to reflect that all the purchases listed in the "Wasteful spending" chart were made by the city, but not all by city staff, as the mayor is an elected official and not a staff member.

Comments

kbrown 2 years, 10 months ago

Matt, Good reporting. I'd score your article a homerun but the judge already called it a foul last week when he didn't except any wasteful/excessive spending accusations against the Mayor and then threw it out.

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LightTheDarkCorners 2 years, 10 months ago

If the petition intended to make the claim that Terry Hill used city funds to purchase a coffee pot and a scanner, had them delivered to his home, and converted them to his personal use, or some use not otherwise authOlized by the city, it could easily have said so

The above is quoted from Judge King's decision of January 12, 2012. This says had the petitioners just gone the extra clause and said: "and these actions constitute misuse of city funds" he would have let the grounds stand. Unfortunately the petitioners didn't have the seemingly unlimited funds of the mayor and his supporters.

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kbrown 2 years, 10 months ago

LTDC:

The above quote does not say had the petitioners just gone the extra clause and said, ... (those are your words).

The key word in your quote you cite is the very first one--IF. To me that says that the Judge understood the claim as an IF and threw it out because IF isn't good enough.

I believe my copy paste does a good job retrieving info from the 'Sentinel.' Here's what the Sentinel published:

“To be legally sufficient, the facts in support of the grounds for recall must contain more than innuendo of misconduct,” the judge wrote.

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basehordream 2 years, 10 months ago

the big picture here is it may have fallen within compliance but many would view longhorn steakhouse, granite city and the $800 to falcon lakes golf club as wasteful spending in a time when many families are doing without. pitiful is what i call it

mr erickson story does not even cover the fact about the altering of the contract. the fact that the mayor was being sneaky and did this behind the back of the council people.

mr erickson story does not even cover the fact about the writing of the severance check for $50,000 without the councils approval. this was sneaky going behind the backs of the council people and the judge agreed.

the judge wrote "summary of decision" "from a consideration of the evidence and argument presented the court finds that the recall petition is legally sufficient, in part, and that plaintiff's request for an order enjoining the recall election is denied."

the news paper here skewed this story in favor of the mayor and definitely has shown the public that they are interested in writing about the mayor crying foul then writing about the facts here. if you read the "city of basehor expense detail" they only sampled about a third of the charges and still show the total at over $10,000. why did you not explain the other charges?

regardless of who swiped the charge card, the mayor was still present at the eatery and had a staff member swipe the card. his name is on the receipts so he was there. lkm is correct, the council should not have to count paperclips. when citizens are cutting back the last thing they want is wasteful spending. if the mayor did not directly make the purchases then please tell me who fell asleep at the wheel and let this get out of hand? this is our money no matter who is spending it. the mayor is the one in charge. is he not the wheel watcher? and who i should blame for all $10,000 in spending? regardless as to who swiped the card?

why did council people not stop this sooner?

wake up and smell the coffee.

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kbrown 2 years, 10 months ago

basehordream:

The newspaper article headline is, "Mayor cries foul over ‘wasteful spending’ accusations" and the PDF attachments are added. Please review them again. The newspaper didn't skew anything, rather they provided all points of view and then provided the facts, the very processeses of purchasing, the authority for purchasing, and a budget for those purchases.

If you don't want to review and recognize those facts then I submit your view is the one that is skewed,

As fas as why didn't city council stop this sooner--every year city council has a work sessions to discuss budget--feel free to look at the agenda packets--those documents are open to the public at the City of Basehor website and have been for a couple of years now--so I'll ask you, why is this now an issue for you?

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basehordream 2 years, 10 months ago

kbrown, thank you. I am just now getting involved in the workings and the more i dive in the more i feel that our taxes are being wasted away.

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OldtimeBasehor 2 years, 10 months ago

Please Basehordream ....... You are just now getting involved?!!!!! You have been involved since the beginning.....................you are one of the "concerned citizens" who started this whole mess.

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basehordream 2 years, 10 months ago

i did recognize the charges and i am appalled. does it matter who signed if the mayor approved the purchases. the town hall meeting was very informational yesterday. i feel the now more then ever we need to keep dysart and mertz.

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johninbasehor 2 years, 10 months ago

So according to the Sentinel article, the mailer that was sent to Basehor residents from the Hill recall group contained a very high percentage of lies. If this is now shown to be true, are the people on this committee responsible for slander against Mayor Hill? Is it within the realm of possibility that they may be sued?

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LightTheDarkCorners 2 years, 10 months ago

Fortunately or unfortunately in a political campaign you can say just about anything about an opponent without being exposed to suit. What you can't do is say it anonymously. The mailing against the two council members of two Fridays ago was most likely a violation of Kansas law.

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onlythetruth 2 years, 10 months ago

LTDC:

The mailing that was sent out that showed false spending charges by Mayor Hill, also was sent out anonymously. It did not include a return address nor did it say who it was from.

So are you saying that the mailing Moore, Bundy, and Townsend sent out was also a violation of Kansas Law?

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johninbasehor 2 years, 10 months ago

The excuse that you use that you can say just about anything about Mayor Hill, even though it has been exposed by the Basehor Sentinel as lies, is a very terrible excuse and a poor example to any of our young people that would be following this recall. If that is the type of people you are, that you are so vindictive that you will say anything to get the Mayor recalled, then you are bearing false witness. All you church goers know what is taught about that!

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basehordream 2 years, 10 months ago

i believe this has shed light that we have wasteful spending and i dont care who spent it. is the mayor not the person in charge of day to day spending or not? its called irresponsible spending no matter who used the city credit card. if the counsel persons say something then they are accused of micro managing. the paper revealed the charges are in fact true. i am really learning and not liking what i see. the mayor was at the helm and has lost control. sounds like dysart and mertz are trying to put a stop to this. for this i thank them.

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OldtimeBasehor 2 years, 10 months ago

LTDC: Jimmy: An indiviudal who professes to be such a wonderful Christian would not make false statements about another human being. Remember that revenge and bearing false witness against your neighbor is not the right thing to do.

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flower 2 years, 10 months ago

I find it interesting the “Recall Hill Group” is continuing to bring up the spending issue when it has been disallow from the recall petition. The only two items on the recall ballot issue are the notation on the CA contract, since reconfirmed 4 times by the full council. The second item on the ballot is the Mayors direction to the staff to prepare the severance check, on advice of counsel, for the CA as dictated by contract for the amount now found to have been correct in the first place. To the cost issue I also find it interesting the same people who are complaining were part of the decision making on virtually all of these expenses. The retreat at Falcon Lake was attended by the council members; in fact the council dictated where they wanted the retreat. The advertising in Ingram’s was approved by the Council; the computers were voted on and approved by the council.
This is serious business and reflects on our community throughout the metropolitan area and state. If you are upset about the spending go to the council meeting and say so, be an active participant but don't join a stoning where none in warranted. Please keep these facts in mind as you go to the polls to vote but do vote.

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Talisman 2 years, 10 months ago

Recall Dennis Mertz! He is a cancer on the council and needs to go!

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basehordream 2 years, 10 months ago

really? he sounds like what this city needs. someone who will speak up for the tax payers. just think about it, if it weren't for him we the taxpayers would not know about

i mayor altering the administrator's contract ii administrator giving himself a raise iii mayor sending keurig coffee maker to his house with tax money iv mayor and staff wasting 12,000 dollars v mayor is related in one way or another to counselman breuer and counselman miles

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OldtimeBasehor 2 years, 10 months ago

Basehordream: there you go again. For someone who was just now getting involved it sure sounds like a personal grudge you have going on! Like I said before, you are part of the original group who started this whole mess. Do the citizens a favor and stop the lies.

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OldtimeBasehor 2 years, 10 months ago

Citizens for Responsible Governing need to remember that spending is the responsibility of City Council. Wasteful spending should be placed at the doorstep of City Council who sets the budget and the spending policy for the City. Mayor and Staff work under those guidelines. Wasteful spending allegations should be directed to your City Council.

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johninbasehor 2 years, 10 months ago

Mertz is really someone the taxpayers need. What a joke! Thanks to him, Iris and Box, the taxpayers are being sued for 1/2 million dollars, and due to the communications Mertz has posted on this blog, the city will lose. I don't know about you, but that 1/2 million dollars would have gone a long way to paving some of our gravel roads that we drive daily in Basehor. As far as your postings about wasted money, the Mayor does not vote on the budget nor the money to be spent. That is done by your precious council, Mertz, Iris, and Box. If you complain about foolish spending, contact them, not the Mayor. And to whomever sent out the last mailer, why did you trash all your leftover flyers in Mayor Hills's yard? Who ever is responsible for that is pitiful and should be put in jail!

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boots 2 years, 10 months ago

You know what I think we should all meet up and do with all the fliers??

Well, let me tell you. . .

I say we take them, Fold them into little oragami penguins and create a penguin army and line the streets with our paper penguin army and give them little picket signs that read "Stop wasting paper".

On a lighter note, This is REALLY a good time killer at work. . . Anyone notice the nice waste of money to create the ad to the right -------------------------------over there>>>>

I bet they could have found something more productive to do with that money. . . Donate it to the Animal shelter maybe?? Keep up with our stray cat problem? The leavenworth Spay and Nueter program? At least use the money for something that is going to make a LONG term difference. . . People are going to keep whoever they want, your ad isn't going to change the minds of the citizens.

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LightTheDarkCorners 2 years, 10 months ago

Please come to the KCC - Suburban hearing at the library 6PM Tuesday Feb 21. Make sure the patrons of the water company aren't the ones paying for that REALLY good time killer at work.

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basehordream 2 years, 10 months ago

is this the water company charging something like 452% profit?

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boots 2 years, 10 months ago

I don't work for the City. I DO however receive a lot of mail here. . .

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KSman57 2 years, 10 months ago

Recall every elected official involved with the current City administration. They are all wasting our money and time. I wonder how many business owners are reading these articles and thinking "Man, Basehor seems like a great place to start a business!"

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kbrown 2 years, 10 months ago

...which is it...you don't care who spent what, or if someone does care then it's micro managing? It's what you wrote.

Again, the information is provided, documented, and accessible--when you write wasteful spending accusations, I must hold you to the same standard you hold everyone else...show me the documentation...not your opinion, not your" if", not inuendo, not conjecture, not feelings, rather link me to the documentation.

Basehordream, what spending was wasteful?

I got another piece of mail today...who the blazes is doing this poo?

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politico_guardian 2 years, 10 months ago

Has everyone read the letter from former City Attorney Patrick Reavey about what the Mayor took part in. Taking extra benefits and altering the contract. See below.

"Dear Mayor and Council: It is with great regret that I send this letter to you. In all of my ten years of serving cities as City Attorney, I have never had to send a letter like this. While it would be much easier for me to not write this letter, my ethical duties as a lawyer run to the governing body of the City, and not to any individual member of the body or any staff member. In other words, in the role of City Attorney, my client is considered the governing body and, therefore, if I become aware of things or conduct that may put the city in legal jeopardy, I am required to disclose those, even if such disclosure may adversely affect a member of staff or an individual member of the governing body."

"The proper way to have addressed this issue would have been to bring it to the Council's attention, and have them take a vote, at an open meeting, to authorize the Mayor to sign the revision to the Agreement the Council had previously adopted. The bottom line is no one has the authority to revise a contract entered into by the City without getting authority to do so from the City Council."

"By the way, Mark never disclosed to me that he and the Mayor had changed his contract. I only learned of this long after the fact when Mary Mogle indicated to me Mark and the Mayor came to her and asked for Mark's contract to make a change to it."

click on the link to read the entire letter. This sheds light on everything. Do we want the same thing to happen again? Cry foul all you want. It was wrong!!!! http://www.dysartmertz.com/uploads/Letter_from_Patrick_Reavey.pdf

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OldtimeBasehor 2 years, 10 months ago

Politico: You forgot to mention when starting your comment that this letter was written two years ago.

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johninbasehor 2 years, 10 months ago

And how many times did the council re appoint the former city manager after that letter was received? I bet Iris doesn't recall...

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boots 2 years, 10 months ago

Does anyone else feel like we are all in JR. High again???

This is rediculous.

And by the way, I'm REALLY sick of my PO BOX being filled with useless petition/recall letters and so forth. Donate your money to the school district and use it to teach the Basehor Youth some literacy. I have seen their Facebooks, and they can not form a paragraph without mispellings and horrible use of the English language. I think Basehor has bigger fish to fry other than this nonsense.

The signs all over town, the rediculous "he said, she said" comments. It's grow up time?? Maybe??

If you don't like Dennis, or Iris, or Box, WHY DIDN'T YOU VOTE!?! I know for a FACT less than 35% of the city voted at the last election. Dennis became President because of the lack of political interest from any other party to step up and do so. That is also why he was on the city council! He was pretty much UN contested by another party.

If you have problems with the city government, you can only blame yourself for not voting. Register. . . Vote. . . or sit down and watch the downward spiral. For those of you that DID vote, this is NOT directed at you, obviously. I find it mildly entertaining that the voting turnout was SOOOO low the last few years and now this is all happening. This is what happens when you let "Fisherman play Doctors" so to speak. I am just blessed that I am not a perm. resident, I think this is rediculous what the politicians and the citizens are making the city out to be. I feel bad for the Chief. . . Bless your heart.

Anyone agree??

Hugs n Kisses Boots

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Ronald Grover 2 years, 10 months ago

Boots,

Did you go to the school district in which you are speaking? Better check your misspellings and sentence structure too. Why did you feel it necessary slam the students in your comment?

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boots 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm not slamming the student, merely the "no child left behind". It clearly doesn't work. They leave them all behind. Hell, one student didn't even know what a TAXIDERMIST was. It's bad.

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boots 2 years, 10 months ago

Oh, and no, I did not. I just pay taxes here. I was only stating, the money used for this political BS could be better spent on something for the kids.

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