City Commissioners Not Ready To Make Judgement On Municipal Court

The Manhattan Municipal Court may yet have its own building but it will not be as grand as what Commissioner Roger Reitz wants and it will not be as cheep as Commissioner Mark Taussig would like.

The Manhattan City Commission received a third scheme of the old Riley County Police Department building at 600 Colorado from Architect Brent Bowman Tuesday evening.

The $389,750 price tag fits between the $487,875 Commission Reitz would like to spend and the $280,000 that Commissioner Taussig would like. Here is a memo given to the Commission by William Frost, City Attorney and Jerry. E. Petty, P.E., Director of Public Works:


On May 15, 2001, the City Commission entered into an agreement with Brent Bowman and Associates (BBA) to provide architectural services related to the facilities at 600 Colorado Street. Those services included two phases. Phase I involved "existing building assessment, schematic design and cost estimate for Municipal Court, and concept planning for park components." Phase II included "design development, construction documents, bidding and construction administration of Municipal Court project." Phase I progressed with a public meeting held on June 20, 2001, during which tours of the old jail and the administration building were provided. Phase II was authorized by the City Commission on July 17, 2001, and construction drawings were prepared.

Since the meeting of July 17, 2001, several things have occurred. First, Municipal Court has actually been relocated from its previous facilities in Colony Square to other, temporary, facilities in the same building. The temporary facilities seem to be working satisfactorily; however, the owners of Colony Square understand that the Court will only be located there until permanent facilities are available elsewhere. Second, and perhaps most significantly, the Riley County Attorney has approached the City Manager and the City Attorney with a request that the City undertake the prosecution of certain specified misdemeanors that would greatly expand the caseload at Municipal Court. The present plan for the renovation of 600 Colorado is insufficient to address the caseload that would be imposed upon the court if the County Attorney’s request were accommodated.

At a work session on September 11, 2001, the City Commission, City Administration, representatives of Riley County Police Department, and the Riley County Attorney’s office discussed the possible prosecution of misdemeanors in Municipal Court. The Commission, at that work session, asked for more data concerning the undertaking of those cases. City Administration has worked with the Riley County Attorney’s office, and the Pottawatomie County Attorney’s office, in an attempt to supply as much relevant information as possible. That information is set forth in the Discussion section of this memo. At the work session, there was also the suggestion that City Administration contact the Board of Riley County Commissioners, and the Riley County District Court, to inquire if there was any need for additional courtroom space by that Court and whether there was a willingness, on the part of the County, to share in the costs of such additional space, if there was such a need. City Administration has contacted both Judge Miller, who is the Administrative Judge for the Riley County District Court and Stan Morgan, the Riley County Counselor. Their responses indicate that there is no need for such space on the part of the Riley County District Court. Copies of letters from Judge Miller and Mr. Morgan are attached.


The Riley County Attorney’s request involves the City undertaking the prosecution of additional misdemeanors involving theft, criminal damage to property, possession of marijuana, and insufficient funds checks. Both the County Attorney and the Director of the Riley County Police Department believe that the City’s handling of these cases will allow the County Attorney’s office to better address the more serious criminal offenses that occur within the city and county. They believe that the present resources of the County Attorney are stretched too thin, if they are required to address these misdemeanors. When fines and court costs are imposed in Riley County District Court upon persons convicted of these offenses, that revenue goes to the state of Kansas, and is not available to fund the County Attorney’s efforts. On the other hand, if those cases were prosecuted in Municipal Court, the fines and costs would come to the City’s general fund, and would be available to assist in the funding of the Municipal Court and prosecution.

The City already prosecutes cases of theft where the value of the items stolen is less than $150. Likewise, the City currently prosecutes criminal damage cases where the damage is less than $150. The state defines misdemeanors in these types of cases as having a value of less than $500. Therefore, Mr. Kennedy’s request would ask us to modify our ordinance to increase the limit to $500.

In order to estimate the impact on Municipal Court, if the City undertakes the prosecution of these misdemeanors, City Administration has obtained data from both the Riley County Attorney’s office, and also the Pottawatomie County Attorney’s office. If the City passes ordinances, giving the Municipal Court jurisdiction to address these criminal offenses, the ordinances will apply to that portion of Manhattan that is located in Pottawatomie County. Although City Administration has attempted to obtain data sufficient to make reasonable efforts to estimate this impact, because of the numerous variables involved, the actual impact could vary greatly from the estimates. Because of the way in which the County Attorney’s offices are able to maintain their records, it is difficult to determine, with accuracy, the amount of cases they handle, and the exact outcome of those cases. It is particularly difficult to estimate the amount of fines and costs that are generated by these cases. Never the less, City Administration has prepared a chart, which is attached, and which estimates the various impacts the addition of these cases will have. As the chart shows, we estimate that an additional 635 cases per year will be added to the case load; an additional 202 people will need to be supervised on either some type of probation or diversion; and, that these cases will generate approximately $70,000 per year in fines and costs. These figures assume that the Commission will amend the City’s charter ordinance, and increase court costs, for these types of cases to $111/case, which is consistent with the costs presently imposed in District Court for similar cases. Because of factors out of the City’s control, and because of variables in the numbers, these figures could vary by as much as 50% one way or the other.

In order to address the additional cases that will be generated, the City will have to expand the staff at Municipal Court. Again, because of the numerous variables involved, it is almost impossible to estimate, with accuracy, the number of such additional personnel, and/or exactly when they will be needed. City Administration believes that such additional cases will require one, full time, additional person to serve as a probation officer. We currently have two full-time persons involved in the supervision of people on probation. Each of these two people currently have between 200 and 250 persons under their supervision at any one time. We may be able to delay the hiring of an additional person for a period of time until after we actually undertake these new cases; however, it would probably be prudent to plan for their hiring close to the time we commence the prosecution of these cases. We estimate that the annual salary for this additional person will fall between $24,000 and $28,000, with an additional $3,600 per year as the cost of benefits for that employee. City Administration also believes that it will be necessary to add one, full time, clerical person to the staff, at an annual salary of between $20,000 and $25,000, with the cost of benefits for that employee to be an additional $3,000 per year. The caseload will also likely require an increase in the number of actual court days, which will necessitate need for additional Judge services. Presently, the Municipal Judge is a part-time position. Whether the position remains part-time, and whether it is filled by one part-time person, or two; or, whether it needs to be filled with one full-time person are questions that will need to be answered. It is probably prudent to wait for a period of time after the new system is in place to finally answer that question; however, it is likely even if we wait, that it will be necessary to adjust the present Judge’s compensation. City Administration believes that the final cost, in the long term, for additional Judge services, will be somewhere between $15,000 and $40,000 per year. The caseload will also likely increase the need for additional Prosecutor services. That cost can probably also wait for a period of time until after we see what the actual effects are; however, we estimate the costs to be between $10,000 and $30,000 per year. Finally, there may be a need for additional Public Defender services. Again, a final determination on the exact need can probably wait; however, we would estimate the cost at between $10,000 and $20,000.

In order to address the space needs such additional cases will require, it will be necessary to modify the design of the renovation to accommodate such activity. If the City Commission decides to take over the misdemeanor cases, and authorizes the renovation and expansion of the 600 Colorado facilities to accommodate the necessary space, the architectural agreement with Brent Bowman and Associates (BBA) will have to be amended. The design efforts to produce the first set of drawings and specifications have been expended. The effort to produce a second set of drawings will not have to start from scratch, but will entail significant additional activity for the architects and their sub-consultants.

The original contract with BBA had a lump sum fee of $38,500. That included all the preliminary meetings and studies leading to the first set of drawings, the actual preparation of the drawings, construction administration, and the concept plan for the entire block. The construction administration and concept plan are still to be completed.

The Commission will recall, that prior to receiving the request from Riley County Attorney Bill Kennedy to expand our Municipal Court operations, City Administration was proceeding with the architect to bid the 4,000 sq. ft. renovation of the current facility with a new entry/police vestibule. That project was estimated to have a construction cost of approximately $260,000, plus architect fees and asbestos removal. The estimated need for the expanded services calls for an additional 1900 sq. ft. of space in addition to the renovation of existing space for an estimated construction cost of about $468,000 plus architect fees and asbestos removal.

Because of the way this project has become somewhat complicated, by changing scope right in the middle of the work, it seems appropriate that the contract be amended to proceed on a cost plus basis, with a maximum amount established. That way, the City can be protected by the maximum, and will only pay for services rendered, but BBA can also have some assurance they will be paid for actual efforts to finish whatever project is finally decided upon. An amendment to the agreement with BBA is attached for consideration, and envisions a maximum fee of $25,000.

Tests taken early in the study process for 600 Colorado identified the portions of both buildings at 600 Colorado that contain asbestos and lead based paint. In the old administration building, that is slated to be remolded, the floor tile can remain in place since it will be covered with new flooring and not otherwise be disturbed. However the ceiling material that contains asbestos will be disturbed, and therefore must be abated. With this memo is a proposed contract with Associated Insulation of Manhattan to remove that asbestos for a cost plus fee, not to exceed $40,000.

A separate memo from Director of Finance Bernie Hayen is attached that deals with the various options that are available to finance this project.

The City Commission has three action items on the agenda pertaining to this matter. The first matter is to determine whether or not to undertake the prosecution of misdemeanors in Municipal Court. The decision on this issue affects the manner in which the other items are addressed. The other two relate to the agreement with BBA, and the contract with Associated Insulation.