Unlucky district 13

rpulley@lsjournal.comNovember 8, 2013 

Several Lee’s Summit voters say they were denied a chance Nov. 5 to vote on a $3 million bond issue for the water district that serves their homes.

The county failed to include the question on voting machines used in their precincts, they said. Election board officials say they’re wrong.

This week’s election asked Public Water Supply District No. 13 of Jackson County voters to approve a $3 million revenue bond issue for upgrading water lines, which voters did by a tally of 735-436.

Lee’s Summit Councilmember Bob Johnson and Norman Marvel, who also lives in east Lee’s Summit, discovered independently that the bond issue wasn’t listed in their precincts.

Just what went wrong, if anything, is undetermined.

Marvel, who lives at 2417 Sweet Water Circle, said his wife went to vote and noticed the problem and told him.

He said he called the water district, which sent him to the election board with his complaint. Marvel said he went to Jackson County Election Board offices where he was given a photocopy for a section of a map and told him he wasn’t in the district.

Regardless, he pays his water bill to Jackson County Water District No. 13 and it provides him and his neighbors water.

Marvel said rates in the water district are far higher, he pays $50 to $100 a month more than neighbors who have water through city utility, depending on the season.

“I am the only one that has to pay Water District 13, but I can’t vote in any of those elections,” Marvel said. “The district line (boundary) goes through my garage.”

Apparently, the water meter is within the district, he said.

Johnson, who lives a little farther west at 1000 Remington Court, also reported the problem to the water district. He had not talked to Marvel. Johnson said he built his house and developed that subdivision, and so knows it’s in Water District No. 13.

He said he hadn’t seen the ballot question at his precinct, didn’t even know about the election until he learned of it when a neighbor called complaining.

“It’s extremely unfortunate, I don’t know whose fault it is,” Johnson said.

Part of the muddiness comes from overlapping jurisdictions.

As Lee’s Summit grew into the countryside and annexed land, it provided other city services, such as sewers, but not water in that area of the city.

Water District No. 13 covers an area that includes land in parts of east Lee’s Summit, south Blue Springs and Lake Lotawana.

Republican Director of Elections Tammy Brown said she checked the election board records and according to them, Johnson does not live in the water district.

She and Democrat Director Bob Nichols said there were no problems with the water district election. She ventured that the water district was sending bills to wrong addresses.

According to Lee’s Summit Water Utilities, their households are not city water customers. Water District No. 13 claims them, but says the problem is an election board matter.

The Journal asked Water District 13 to see a map of the district. Its manager, Charles Dellario, said the district’s attorney told him not to show the map to a reporter until the attorney had finished looking at the matter.

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