Quorum petition valid
Council must pick: Drop issue or pay for election
A petition challenging the Tonganoxie City Council's attempt to increase its quorum has been declared valid.
Now it's up to council members to decide whether to drop the matter or pay for a special referendum to put the issue to a public vote.
On Friday, Leavenworth County Clerk Linda Scheer, verified that a petition passed by former council member Velda Roberts, with the help of Roger and Phylis Shilling, had obtained the proper number of signatures needed to challenge a charter ordinance adopted at an Aug. 13 City Council meeting.
The ordinance changed the number of council members needed for a quorum from three to four. The change would allow council members to meet outside of the council chambers to discuss city business.
Council member Tom Putthoff, who asked for the ordinance, said he wanted to discuss with the council what options are available for the ordinance.
"I still feel the same way: That it's a needed tool for communication," Putthoff said. "I know there are people concerned with behind-the-doors dealings. I don't concern myself with that because that isn't me."
Tonganoxie Mayor Mike Vestal, who said he was surprised at the 5-0 vote to adopt the charter ordinance, wasn't sure what direction the council would take.
"If they want to spend the money for the election and get it over and done with, it's going to be up to them," Vestal said. "One way or the other it's going to be resolved."
Under state law, if the council wants to proceed with the quorum-changing ordinance, it has 30 days to call an election, which then must be held within 90 days.
Scheer said there were no county elections scheduled this November, so the city would have to pay around $1,200 for a special election.
The council also could drop its pursuit of the ordinance.
"I was pleased with the number of signatures," Roberts said. "Now it's just a matter of waiting on the city; hopefully we'll know that right away."
The next council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 12, in the council chambers at City Hall.