In a 5-2 vote, the City County Building Authority (BA) voted to allow the concealed carry of handguns in the City-County Building effective January 1, 2018. After months of discussions, Chairman Todd Heitschmidt said the decision boiled down to two choices: to look at securing the entire building or to take down the paper signs at the exterior doors that prohibit concealed carry.
BA member and City Commissioner Jon Blanchard said that his concern is to provide a safe workplace. The motion allows for departments seeking to adopt additional security measures to do so.
BA member and City Commissioner Melissa Rose Hodges said State Legislators have given the BA “an unfunded mandate”. Referencing that the State Capitol has stepped up its security, she continued saying “lawmakers have conveniently taken care of this for themselves”.
Both Blanchard and Hodges voted against the motion to allow concealed carry.
Hodges said that she’d completed a “boosted Facebook survey” and had received comments from those who work on the building’s 3rd floor, that has a metal detector and armed security when courts are in session. At least one 3rd floor worker expressed concern that this security is not in place when courts are not in session. Previously, staff have voiced concerns that they might encounter an upset individual or family member in hallways, stairways and on the elevator.
Although BA member and County Commissioner Robert Vidricksen made the motion to take down paper signs that prohibit concealed carry, he said, “Personally, I’d like to see guns leave our society”.
Blanchard said he appreciated Vidricksen’s comments and that there is “no right or wrong”; the BA was “making a decision based on two bad situations”. Vidricksen said, “If someone is dead set on causing a catastrophe, it’s going to happen; that sign isn’t protecting us”. BA member and County Commissioner Mike White said, “Our lawmakers in Topeka gave us this question to deal” with.
In other matters, the BA chose to make no change in policy 4023-2 that stipulates when the Building Superintendent can make spending decisions on his own, and when he must seek additional approval.
The BA voted to allow the Gypsum Hill Cemetery to purchase a piece of granite, salvaged from the removal of the north bridge from the City County Building. Different pieces have been valued at $200 to $250. Blanchard said another entity might be interested in purchasing granite for a piece honoring Karen Graves. White suggested that the Saline County Road and Bridge property may be able to store the granite, if space is tight for the BA.
Building Superintendent Duane Grace received authorization to get bids to repair some of the east and west steps on the BA grounds and to do additional curb work.
The BA will take up the BA’s 2018 budget at its June meeting. Members requested time to study the 2018 budget request; Grace said it is similar to the 2017 budget.]