Park City has agreed to settle with Sedgwick County over jail fees it had refused to pay since 2008.
It is one of several cities the county sued for nonpayment of fees to house inmates in jail on municipal charges. The suit continues against four other cities, including Wichita, which the county says owes slightly more than $7 million.
Park City has agreed to pay $36,450 to settle back fees and begin paying on time. It had owed $139,516 with interest.
Sedgwick County began charging cities a $2.09 hourly fee on Jan. 1, 2008, to house inmates booked into jail on municipal charges. The goal was to get cities to think twice about sending people to jail, which is dealing with overcrowding, instead of using other penalties.
In March 2008, Wichita city attorney Gary Rebenstorf sent a letter to the county saying: "Please be advised that the city of Wichita does not accept these charges and will not be paying them."
County commissioners voted in November 2008 to proceed with a lawsuit to ask for a judge's opinion on whether the county had the right to collect the fee. It is set for court in May.
The lawsuit still applies to Bel Aire, Goddard, Haysville and Wichita. Although other cities have outstanding balances, the county opted not to include them in the lawsuit because what they owed was less than the cost of defense would be.
Through Jan. 5, Wichita owed just more than $7 million, including nearly $613,000 in interest, according to county records.
Other cities that have not made any payments — and their balances through Jan. 5 — are:
* Haysville: $145,419
* Bel Aire: $95,656
* Goddard: $32,144
* Cheney: $7,268
* Garden Plain: $2,883
* Colwich: $809
Cities that have made payments are Bentley, Clearwater, Derby, Eastborough, Kechi, Maize, Mount Hope, Mulvane and Valley Center.
Two cities have incurred charges of less than $100, and one city charges of less than $200.
Doug Moshier, city attorney for Park City, said the decision to settle was made by the City Council.
"I think a big part of it was my assessment of the risks of where this case ultimately would end up," he said.
In 1984, the Legislature gave Sedgwick County the authority to either charge cities for housing inmates in jail on municipal — not district court — offenses or levy a tax not to exceed one mill.
A change to that law in 1990, county counselor Michael Pepoon explained to commissioners in April, "had the effect of rendering the option provided to Sedgwick County meaningless."
While cities that have refused to pay have cited the county's ability to charge a tax, the county has said it never has levied a special tax for the jail.