Topeka City Council member’s reaction to judge’s ruling on Heartland Park racetrack stay

TOPEKA (KSNT) — The future of Heartland Park race track is still in question Thursday night. Three Kansas court of appeals judges have given organizers behind a petition to force a public vote on the city’s purchase of it a temporary stay.

Presiding judge Stephan Hill says it’s only fair that those behind the heartland park petitions should have more time to appeal a ruling that declared them invalid two months ago.

This stay prohibits the city of Topeka from moving forward with issuing more than $5 million worth of STAR bonds and purchasing the financially troubled race track.

Petition organizers are asking the courts to say their petitions to require a public vote on the deal are valid.

The city says a lower court judge’s previous ruling says they’re not, and…

“To put it on a ballet right now we would be sued by several entities who have already stated that they would do that because it would be an illegal election,” said Nathan Schmidt, Topeka City Council member.

Early Thursday afternoon city manager Jim Colson repeated the purchase is a good deal for the city … “by securing an economic generator that will fill a significant hole in the city’s budget over the next decade.”

But Schmidt says as much as $23.5 million in taxpayer money is already at risk….

“As we keep approaching deadlines the possibility that we are going to have to absorb that financial liability into the city budget and into our revenue sources like property taxes becomes more and more real,” said Schmidt.

Asked what the council will do next – Schmidt told Kansas First News they’ll just wait the legal process out. Meanwhile, both sides now have to have additional legal briefs filed with the appeals court by the end of the month.

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