Judge Rules Against City of Topeka in ERP, Helicopter Lawsuit

By: 13 News
By: 13 News

A Shawnee County judge ruled against the City of Topeka in a lawsuit over purchases of a police helicopter and human resources software program.

Former Shawnee Co. District Attorney Robert Hecht filed the lawsuit last year, questioning the validity of the purchases and the Topeka City Council's authority to override a mayoral veto.

Judge Larry Hendricks denied the city's motion to dismiss the portion of the lawsuit pertaining to the purchase of a new Robinson helicopter. Since the City Council failed to override a mayoral veto of the purchase, he did say issues relating to the transaction were moot. However, he said any agreements between the City and Schreib-Air and MSG are void and unenforceable and any payments the City made to the companies should be returned.

On the software portion of the lawsuit, Judge Hendricks found that the Kansas Cash Basis Law requires a majority vote of the members of the governing body. Hendricks ruled the city's charter ordinance includes the mayor in the governing body, meaning the ERP software purchase required six votes. The measure did not get that many votes in favor. In addition, Hendricks said the city's charter ordinance does not give the Council the ability to override a mayoral veto.

Hendricks found the city has no financial obligation to the companies from which it was to purchase the software.

Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten has been urging the City Council to put a charter ordinance on the April election ballot clarifying issues raised in the lawsuit. The Council is studying the issue.

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