Fort Scott employees under investigation for misconduct and misuse of funds

City of Fort Scott starting infrastructure improvement project
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FORT SCOTT, Kan. – The Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Johnson County and Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Offices, are investigating a report of official misconduct and misuse of funds against current and former employees with the City of Fort Scott.

Sheriff Bill Martin couldn’t comment directly, aside from saying they were going to start interviews this week.

Investigation Notice

City Attorney Jeff Deans says, “The matter, as I understand it, is following up on the City’s own investigation that was reported in detail at the September 1 meeting. Aside from the extensive comments made on September 1 in my report to the Commission, the City has no other comment.”

During that meeting on September 1st, Deane discussed at length the Union Lofts Project, which has been the source of contention and confusion within the community.

The project, which is turning the old Union Block building into low-income apartments, started in 2017. At the time, the city commission committed 400-thousand dollars or 7.2 percent of the total cost.

But since then, a new general contractor has taken over the project, demolishing the Stout building was added to the scope, and the project cost has grown from around 5.5 million to 8 million in total. Because of that increase, the city spent another 42 thousand dollars — from a fund that some thought wasn’t meant for projects like the Union Lofts.

“I can tell you that no funds were spent except for validly appropriated and approved funds,” Deane told the city commission during their meeting on Septemeber 1st.

Former Commissioners' Statement

There was also confusion on if the funds committed were loans or grants. Deane says that they were grants, so they won’t be repaid to the city. Deane also explained to the city commission that when the project was approved, there was no written contract.

“We’re lucky in this case that something didn’t go wrong that required a written contract. It would have been harder potentially for us to recover, but we still would have been able to make the same arguments,” Deane said.

Another source of contention and confusion is the alleged transfer of funds from the city sewer fund to other city expenses.

It’s currently unclear if it’s part of the investigation, but Commissioner Pete Allen has claimed that the city has “illegally” transferred to other parts of the budget, even as the sewer system needs major repairs. He was also outspoken against an ordinance that allowed the transfer of funds that was recently passed.

Pete Allen Facebook Post

We also reached out to Pete Allen, but he declined the opportunity to comment, saying “I do not want to, in any way, compromise the investigation, so I feel, in the best interest of the City of Fort Scott, I must decline the invitation. Thank you.”

If you would like to read more about the City Attorney’s response to contention around the Union Lofts project, click this link.