|
Kiowa County Signal - Kiowa County, KS
  • Commissioners to form Belvidere cemetery district

  • During a public hearing last Monday morning Kiowa County Commissioners and Kiowa County Counselor Dawn Hayes addressed questions from county residents about the proposed resolution creating a Belvidere cemetery district that will include the Soldier’s Creek Cemetery.


    • email print
  • During a public hearing last Monday morning Kiowa County Commissioners and Kiowa County Counselor Dawn Hayes addressed questions from county residents about the proposed resolution creating a Belvidere cemetery district that will include the Soldier’s Creek Cemetery.
    Stemming from a previous inquiry into the mowing of the Soldier Creek Cemetery in Belvidere, county officials say they discovered that they became responsible for the cemetery after the dissolution of Glick Township, which included Belvidere.
    During a Feb. 20 commission meeting, Hayes explained to Haviland and Belvidere residents in attendance that the county could either create a new cemetery district, or the cemetery could be absorbed into the Haviland cemetery district.
    Much of the half-hour long discussion last Monday was focused on the creation of a new district, the necessity of such a district and the process by which the county would create it.
    “We are not going to make a decision here today,” said 1st District Commissioner John Unruh. “The purpose of this public hearing is to help us understand what you folks would like to see happen down there. I think Dick [Robbins] you would like to see it continue as it was and I don’t think that’s possible under state statutes. We need to form a district down there and have you folks form a board, set your mill levy for your maintenance funds and go from there.”
    Kansas statutes require the creation of cemetery districts to oversee county-owned cemeteries.
    “There has to be a non-profit or private registered cemetery association, or there needs to be a cemetery district,” said Hayes. “There are a lot of rules and regulations that are there to protect our loved ones who are buried in cemeteries. There is a lot of record keeping and a lot of protection. That’s why this is happening.”
    Ed Koeger, a Comanche County resident who has family buried in Soldier’s Creek was at the meeting and had been a member of the previous board of trustees for the cemetery.
    “So why did I get served with papers,” asked Koeger referencing the receipt of a quiet title action filed by the commissioners.
    “We want to make sure there are no questions in that title when the new cemetery district takes over,” replied Hayes who added that Koeger, as one of the previous board members, was one of the few official contacts for the cemetery.  
    The county says it filed the quiet title to Koeger in an attempt to clear any clouds over the title of the cemetery that arose from the mishandling of paperwork during the transition of the cemetery from the township to the county.
    Once the county clears the title, and passes a resolution, a board of directors would be formed and the county would provide it funding in the form of a mill levy or a $6,000 budget for the maintenance and upkeep of the property.
    Page 2 of 2 - If the newly created board so chooses, it can impose a mill levy on property owners inside of the created district.
    There are three other cemetery districts inside Kiowa County. Each of the districts have a mill levy on inclusive district property owners.
    The Hillcrest Cemetery District in Mullinville draws 2.27 mills, the Fairview Cemetery District in Greensburg draws 2.218 mills and the Haviland Cemetery District draws 5.349 mills.
    The newly formed board would also come into possession of “boxes of paperwork” that have remained unfiled and unorganized. Koeger said he was in possession of the paperwork.
    The hearing concluded with questions about the location of the first board meeting, the election of board members and requirements for inclusion on the board.
    Kansas Statute Annotated (K.S.A.) 17-1331 governs the creation of a board of directors. The board would be required to meet within 30 days of the formation of the district and elect five members.
    The statute also regulates the residency requirements of all of the directors.
    “Directors shall reside either in the county or counties in which such cemetery district is located or within 25 miles of the cemetery district boundaries.”  
    The commission may rule on either the creation of the district or the expansion of the Haviland Cemetery district at their next meeting on May 7. Should the commissioners pass an ordinance, the notice would be published for two weeks in the official county newspaper. There would be a 30-day waiting period during which residents of the proposed district could petition the county to place the proposal on a ballot for a vote. State law requires a petition signed by no less than 10 percent of residents inside of the proposed cemetery district to qualify it for a ballot measure.
    If no petition is filed, the first meeting of the cemetery district, during which officers and members are elected, would take place 6-7 weeks following its adoption by the commissioners.

        calendar