Voters in Pottawatomie County have rejected a quarter-percent sales tax to fund road and bridge improvements in the county by a 53 to 47 percent margin.
County officials had projected that the tax, which was proposed in addition to the existing 1 percent retail sales tax, could have generated roughly $1.6 million annually for about a dozen projects primarily between Blue Township and Wamego. Commissioner Dee McKee, in an interview Wednesday with KMAN noted she was disappointed the sales tax question failed.
McKee admits a lack of publicity over the sales tax question likely hurt its chances of passage, citing a lack of media coverage. KMAN has publicized the issue, but Pottawatomie County falls into what some call a “news desert,” with very few active local media outlets covering the county commission.
Voters did however approve expansion of the county commission from three to five seats, by a 59 to 41 percent margin. The move largely gives county residents more representation, especially on issues requiring a super-majority vote. The issue became part of the ballot after Planning Commissioner Doug Kern gathered more than 1,000 signatures to petition the county for the question. McKee says while it may create some initial challenges, she believes it will ultimately benefit the county’s ability to delegate attendance to other regional committee and board meetings.
During a recent interview on KMAN’s In Focus, Pottawatomie County Election Supervisor Ashley Rice explained how commission districts would be divided, in the event expansion was approved.
That process happens every year regardless of commission size, based on population. Expansion will occur in 2023, with the current board to pass a resolution on or before Jan. 1 defining the new districts.
The rest of the timeline is listed below this article, according to information provided by Pottawatomie County Clerk Dawn Henry to KMAN. McKee won re-election also in the county’s 1st district, running unopposed after facing two challengers in the August primary in the Republican party.
The board will adopt a resolution outlining the new districts. If the board does not act, it will be up to Chief Judge Jeff Elder to order the division of districts, according to state statute. After that, the governor would have five days from the resolution’s adoption and with advice from the board to declare an election for new districts to be voted upon at the next general election date or call a special election to be held 75 to 90 days from the date of the board resolution.
In either scenario, the two additional elected officials would serve until Jan. 10, 2025. A full timeline, provided by the County Clerk’s Office, is available below.
If a special election is called:
- Chairs of each recognized political party calls a convention not less than 15 days or more than 25 days from Governors declaration where a candidate will be chosen K.S.A. 19-203a(b)
- Independent candidates can submit petition of not less than 5% of qualified electors in the new district no more than 25 days from the declaration. K.S.A. 19-203(c)
- Candidates must reside in the new district and only voters in the new district will vote in the special election.
- The winners will only serve until the next general election where the successors will be chosen K.S.A. 19-203(9)
- Terms of office must be staggered so no more than a majority are elected in one election. K.S.A. 19-202(c)
- New districts (District 4 and 5) will be elected in same cycle as District 1
- If special election results in new districts being elected in the next general election with the 2 existing districts, the newly elected commissioners will only serve two years and run again with in correct cycle.
Prior to Sept 1st, 2022 – Commission placed question on ballot as a result of petition
November 8, 2022 – Question to increase commission districts on ballot passes by a 59 to 41 percent margin
Prior to Jan 1st, 2023 – Commissioners must adopt new districts
Governor either calls special election or declares for general election
If a special election is called:
15-25 days from Governor declaration, political parties call convention to select candidates
Independent candidates submit signatures no more than 25 days from declaration (5% of new commissioner district)
Election held 75-90 days from the declaration
Winners serve until January 10th, 2025
General Election 2024
Candidates for existing Districts 2 & 3 are elected to 4-year terms (2025-2029)
Candidates for new Districts 4 & 5 are elected to 2-year terms (2025-2029)
General Election 2026
Candidates for Districts 1, 4, & 5 are elected to 4-year terms (2027-2031)
General Election 2028
Candidates for Districts 2 & 3 are elected to 4-year terms (2029-2033)