Archive for Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Sheriff’s plan set for vote in November

August 9, 2000

Now that the primary election has answered the question of who's going to be on the ballot, the next question is: What's going to be on the ballot?

In the Nov. 7 election, voters will be asked whether to approve a new retirement plan for sheriff department officers.

If voters give their approval, this would mean a shift of the retirement fund for sheriff department officers from Kansas Employees Retirement System to Kansas Police and Fire.

Getting to this point has taken some doing.

Sheriff Herb Nye said that Leavenworth County commissioners in June voted in favor of the union contract with the Kansas Police and Fire retirement fund.

But later there was some confusion as to whether commissioners had voted on the retirement fund issue.

Wayne Eldridge, commission chairman, said last week that the commissioners had indeed voted to place this on the ballot.

"We have listened to the tape over and over again," Eldridge said. "The county counselor said it was voted on. He was there and I was instructed to sign it. As far as I'm concerned, it's a done issue and let's go on."

David Van Parys, county counselor, confirmed Monday that county commissioners had signed an agreement to place the issue on the Novem-ber ballot, allowing voters to decide whether to buy into the KP&F retirement fund.

"If the voters approve it, then the county would issue a long-term debt in order to buy into it, because the cost is substantial," Van Parys said.

Van Parys said he's not sure at this point what the cost would be.

"My intention is to obtain a full actuarial analysis of the buy-in cost," Van Parys said. "I would hope to have it within the next couple of weeks because the ballot question has to be formulated by very early in September."

The last estimate the county had was in the $2 million range, but that was several years ago, Van Parys said. Nye estimates the cost will be closer to $3 million.

But Nye said if the county wants to attract high-quality officers, the move is necessary.

"I need it for recruitment," Nye said. "Everybody else around me has better retirement than we do."

Further, Eldridge said that a better retirement would aid the county in retaining officers.

"It will help," Eldridge said. "We won't be a training center for patrolmen anymore. Our wages are still a little low, but they're 100 percent better than what they were. The only way we're going to keep good sheriff officers is by keeping their pay higher and having a better retirement plan."

Meanwhile, Van Parys continues to investigate whether the county legally can add to the November ballot a $90 million road proposal. The 20-year road proposal would require a tax increase of about 9 mills.

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