Archive for Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tonganoxie City Council approves charter change

June 15, 2010

The Tonganoxie City Council approved an ordinance chartering the city out of a state statute requiring the mayor annually appoint with the consent of the council the police chief and city clerk positions.

The publication of the charter ordinance in The Mirror will start a 60-day protest period, during which those opposed to the change can petition to have it put to a citywide vote.

Needing a super-majority to win approval, the ordinance passed, 4-1. In voting no, Councilwoman Paula Crook said the feedback she received from the public was unfavorable.

The ordinance does not establish what would replace the mayor’s appointment, as a concerned Councilman James Truesdell pointed out. That was for the council to do once the current process was repealed, City Counselor Mike Kelly said.

In response to Truesdell’s question, Councilman Jason Ward restated the discussion points of last month when the measure was debated.

It was expected the city administrator would make recommendations to the council, Ward said. The goal of the change was to remove the potential of politics to taint the hiring of the two key positions, he said.

Ward also reminded his fellow council members that it was proposed professional committees be used to make recommendations for the hiring of those and all other city supervisory positions.

That discussion was more than academic with the Aug. 1 target date to hire a new police chief to succeed the retiring Chief Kenny Carpenter. The 60-day protest period would end after that date.

It was agreed Mayor Mike Vestal would agree to appoint a professional committee to recommend the new police chief.

Councilman Burdel Welsh, the police chief of Lake Quivira, said professional committees for chief searches usually had one citizen member and about three law enforcement professionals (probably Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office administrators). The committees usually met once to review resumes and interview applicants before forwarding a recommendation of the top three to four candidates, he said.

The council also agreed Monday not to purchase two used police cars from the city of Westwood. Councilman Tom Putthoff and Welsh opposed the plan, saying buying used cars was a Band-Aid that would cost the city more in the long term.

They proposed the city use the $10,000 from police department’s reserve account for this year’s payment on a new car.

Yanez said he too favored buying new equipment. But this year’s budget constraints made him support the plan.

Future payments on a new car would be made from the city’s share of the county’s sale tax, which he planned to use to pay down the city’s debt obligation and relieve its consequence on the mill levy, Yanez said.

Council members, nonetheless, preferred to buy one new car, but agreed to table the

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