Legal ads from Sedgwick County will soon start appearing in a Derby newspaper instead of The Wichita Eagle.
Sedgwick County commissioners voted unanimously to contract with the Derby Weekly Informer to publish notices about mill levies, sales, fund balances and delinquent personal and real estate property taxes.
The Derby Weekly Informer had the lowest proposal of $56,250. A proposal from The Eagle was $132,597, about $57,000 less than its rate for 2016.
A third proposal, from the Ark Valley News, came in at $57,458.
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State law requires local governments to print legal notices in a local newspaper. Sedgwick County already publishes its legal notices online and on its smartphone app.
Bid board members recommended the county remain with The Eagle, its current contractor for legal ads. Their recommendation was based partially on years of experience, frequency of publication and number of subscribers.
The Eagle has a Monday-Saturday circulation rate of 33,705 copies in Sedgwick County. According to county documents, the Derby Weekly Informer and the Ark Valley News are weekly publications with a circulation of 1,537 and 1,883 copies, respectively. The Informer is mailed to people.
Commissioners expressed interest in lobbying for the state to no longer require governments to publish their legal ads in a newspaper.
“We do it because we’re required to do it,” said Commissioner Jim Howell, who moved to approve the Informer’s proposal and whose district includes Derby. “In the information age of the 21st century, we have lots of ways to get this data out to people.”
Commissioner David Dennis said he would have approved publishing ads in a paper with a larger circulation if the ads weren’t available online.
“We need to save the taxpayers as much as we can,” Dennis said.
Roy Heatherly, president and publisher of The Wichita Eagle, said he was disappointed in the commission’s decision.
“Like everyone, we want the commissioners to be good stewards of our tax dollars,” he said. “But in doing that, they should adhere to the wisdom of the old saying: ‘You get what you pay for.’
“In this case, notification of important business that potentially affects the entire county will now be delivered by mail to about 1,500 people once a week, at most. The Eagle offers an audience more than 20 times that on a daily basis in Sedgwick County.
“Members of the county’s bid board wisely noted how that investment in a much larger audience also offered a chance at a greater return for taxpayers with issues such as delinquent tax notices,” Heatherly said.