By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
Officials from Seward County were recently contacted by Barton County Administrator Richard Boeckman regarding the filing of a sweeps lawsuit against the state of Kansas.
The lawsuit referred to Kansas House Bill 2373, which if passed would allow lawmakers to sweep funds from state and local agencies to help balance the state’s budget.
Mike O’Neal, who filed the lawsuit, said sweeping of funds from state agencies is unconstitutional and in essence is an illegal tax.
In a letter from Boeckman, the Barton County Administrator was looking for counties to participate in the lawsuit, and Seward County commissioners discussed that issue at their Feb. 1 regular meeting. At that time, he said he had not received a firm commitment from any counties in the state.
After that discussion, the consensus of the commission was for county staff to draft a letter for the board’s review at Monday’s meeting to send to legislators opposing the sweep and presenting ideas of spending reductions.
Monday, the commission unanimously approved sending that letter to Representative Carl Holmes and State Senator Tim Huelskamp regarding the sweep of funds from state and local agencies.
The letter stated the county is opposed to a sweep of county funds to balance the state budget without legislators seriously considering the impact such a sweep would have on counties.
“When you arbitrarily withhold planned and budgeted funds from the county, it makes it difficult or impossible for the county to deliver goods and services our constituents require,” the letter read. “And so we are asking you please think long and hard before voting for ‘sweeping’ any additional county funds.”
Seward County Administrator Mary Bloomer said Monday what happens with HB 2373 is out of the hands of local governments.
“I believe the state’s going to do what they have to do to balance the budget on the back of the counties,” she said. “The state wants to adopt legislation with wind farms to establish a trust fund to hold those funds, but that trust fund probably won’t be there if we needed it.”