City Disputes DA's Opinion on Chopper Purchase

The Topeka City Council's approval of a police helicopter purchase was legitimate, according to Topeka's Acting City Attorney.

Braxton Copley issued a response Friday to an opinion from District Attorney Robert Hecht. Hecht said January 19th that the City Council had acted outside its authority in using a communication to authorize the lease-purchase agreement for the helicopter.

Copley's three-page memorandum also clarifies whether the Mayor is able to veto a communication. Copley says the Kansas Constitution home rule amendment allows cities to set up their own unique local governments. He says the 2004 charter ordinance approved by voters limits the mayor’s veto powers to only council legislation and line items in appropriation ordinances, such as the 2008 budget. Copley says the contract to purchase a helicopter was an administrative matter which was not subject to a veto.

“Approval of a contract is an administrative action … delegated to the city manager in this council-manager form of government …. Because the mayoral veto can only be exercised over council legislation and appropriation ordinances, the veto attempt in the matter at hand was without effect,” Copley writes. “Therefore there was no need for any council action to override such an ineffective veto.”

Hecht had said he would wait for the city's response to his opinion before deciding whether to pursue any further action in court.

631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email:
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