Individuals purchasing gasoline or diesel fuel in Arkansas City will have to prepay for their fuel purchases starting in March.

The City Commission of Arkansas City passed an ordinance Feb. 20 that requires fuel retailers to require prepayment to dispense fuel.

The ordinance was proposed by the Arkansas City Police Department after theft of fuel from local filling stations increased dramatically from 2017 in just the first two months of 2018.

“In the first 14 days of 2018, we took reports on seven such crimes,” Police Chief Dan Ward said in a memo to the commission.

“This is a statistically significant number of theft cases as our total theft cases annually are under 500. It is also a dramatic increase as in 2017, we only had 27 total incidents documented. It should also be noted that of those 27 cases in 2017, eight were in November and December.”

ACPD has been focused on reducing the number of theft cases in Ark City for more than a year.

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“Specifically, we have been targeting theft and burglary crimes, as those two categories are extremely high and driving our overall crime index,” Ward said.

“The officers of the department are encouraged to examine the causes of crime and attempt to identify ways in which we can prevent them from occurring in the first place.”

Creating this ordinance was a measure suggested by Police Officer Matt Mayo as one way crime prevention can be achieved.

“Officer Mayo contacted management at Casey’s, Love’s, Apco, Rakie’s and Cenex to determine if any of the businesses would oppose such an ordinance,” Ward said.

“Officer Mayo reports that Love’s and Apco have both now gone to prepay as a result of the number of thefts. The management of the local Casey’s stores stated they would be in favor of such an ordinance and explained that it was corporate policy not to require prepay unless there was a city ordinance.”

Such ordinances exist in other Kansas communities, such as Kansas City, Topeka and Wichita.

“Love’s has already done it, and they have not had any thefts,” Ward said.

“Speaking from experience, this is long overdue,” said Commissioner Karen Welch, who worked as a police dispatcher for more than 20 years.

ACPD and the court system both expend resources in order to pursue prosecuting thefts. “There are quite a few of these cases that are reported to us (in which) it’s just simply people that don’t remember to pay,” Ward said.

In those instances, the police work as “bill collectors” and the individual often returns to the station to pay, without a report being filed.

In other business, the commission:

  • City of Arkansas City logounanimously approved the agenda, with an addition of a 10-minute executive session to discuss matters of non-elected personnel.
  • unanimously approved the following consent agenda items:
    • approving the Feb. 6 regular meeting minutes as written;
    • ratifying Mayor Dan Jurkovich’s appointments of Kim Hager and Charles Tweedy to the Community Spirit Award Committee;
    • authorizing Jurkovich to sign the annual Statement of Assurance from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism regarding continuing use of recreational facilities funded by Land and Water Conservation Grant funds;
    • purchasing five sets of Morning Pride firefighting personal protective equipment from Conrad Fire Equipment, of Olathe, for an amount not to exceed $11,510.60.
  • heard an update on South Central Kansas Medical Center.
  • unanimously approved Amendment No. 4 to the contract agreement between the city and Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company for modifications to the original scope of professional engineering services for the new Water Treatment Facility, for an amount not to exceed $30,000.
  • unanimously approved a personnel policy update to correct the previously approved Safety Footwear policy.
  • unanimously approved an ordinance fixing the compensation for a new position: Finance Department executive assistant.
  • unanimously ratified Jurkovich’s appointments of:
    • Charles Jennings to the Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Commission, for a term of two years;
    • Mary Benton, Melinda Cushenbery, Chris Dancy, Kammy Downs, Gary Hale, Jeni McGee and John Sturd to one-year terms on the 2018 Capital Improvement Planning Committee;
    • Jace Kennedy, for a term of one year, and Randy Smith, for a term of two years, to at-large positions on the Building Trades Advisory Board. One seat was left open on the Building Trades Board, to be filled during the March 6 commission meeting.
  • unanimously approved an ordinance annexing, incorporating within and adding 5 acres to the city.
    • unanimously authorized the rezoning of the newly annexed land from R-1 (Low-Density Residential District) to R-2 (Medium-Density Residential District).
    • unanimously authorized the rezoning of 1125 W. Skyline Road from C-2 (Restricted Commercial District) to R-2 (Medium-Density Residential District).
    • unanimously authorized the creation of a Housing Opportunity Overlay District (HO-O) for both 1125 W. Skyline Road and the 5 acres immediately to the south.
  • heard updates from City Manager Nick Hernandez on the 2017 audit and a proposed change to the Kansas Roofing Registration Act that will not move out of committee this year.
  • held a 10-minute executive session to discuss matters of non-elected personnel, with no action following.
  • unanimously approved the 2017 asset forfeiture report from ACPD.
  • unanimously approved the purchase of an audio-visual system from Sparks Music for the Water Treatment Facility multipurpose training room, for an amount not to exceed $14,500.