Sedgwick County commissioner Jim Howell said Wednesday he was not trying to negotiate behind the scenes for the purchase of a downtown Wichita building.
The county commission voted last week to hold off on a decision on a new county administration building until after the 2019 budget is completed. They have been looking at two downtown buildings or the option of constructing a new building next to the courthouse. During the discussion, commission chairman David Dennis raised concerns about a commissioner having private talks with a building owner, and he said the negotiating should be done by the county manager and staff. Dennis did not name the commissioner, but Howell said he was the person that Dennis referred to.
Howell said he was responding to an email sent to all of the commissioners, and he was asking for some clarifying information that he intended to share with the other commissioners. He said he has never attempted to negotiate anything, and he felt his email response was prudent and reasonable. Howell said he has never spoken with the building owner.