Archive for Thursday, July 7, 2005

Futures of city appointees hinge on Monday meeting

July 7, 2005

At next Monday's city council meeting, Eudora Mayor Tom Pyle and the council will either reappoint or dismiss a number of city officials, including Bobby Arnold, Eudora parks and recreation director, and Jim Boyer, city superintendent.

In the weeks leading up to the meeting, Arnold received an early message informing him that he would most likely not be retained. This message has spawned a petition for support of Arnold and has led some council members to question the validity of the appointment system.

Boyer said he was informed by the mayor June 14 that he would not be recommended for reappointment but that Pyle didn't explain why.

"He really didn't have a good answer," Boyer said. "He just said it wasn't working out."

Boyer has been city superintendent since October 2002.

With these personnel questions looming, former council member Rex Burkhardt will be attending and thinks it'll be a packed house.

"I think there will be a lot of support for Bobby," Burkhardt said.

The waves of controversy have centered on the appointees, who serve under a different classification than other city workers.

The mayor and the city council determine the status of Arnold, the city superintendent and other municipal positions including the city clerk, municipal judge and chief of police.

"It's an appointment by the mayor with the approval of city council," city clerk Donna Oleson said.

According to the Governing Body Handbook published by the Kansas League of Municipalities in 2005, the duration of the appointment lasts one year and until the mayor and council appoint a successor.

Discussion about the appointments may take place during the executive session of the city council meeting.

City employees may not disclose the reasoning behind their personnel decisions but the city council looks into all aspects of the hiring process.

The goal is always to make a well-informed decision, city council member Scott Hopson said.

"You just try and get the facts and make the best decision you can," Hopson said.

The Eudora City Council follows the tips set out in the handbook, which provides for appointment controversies.

The handbook classified a "smooth-running appointment process" as one that strikes a balance between community relations and state law. It stressed the use of common sense when opposition occurs.

State statute gives the mayor the right to appoint positions. If the council does not agree with the mayor -- for instance, if it believes the appointee isn't qualified or wouldn't be good for the office, or vice versa -- then it would be perfectly right to refuse consent.

This follows with Bill Whitten's view during a council appointment approval session.

"You've got to look and see what is best going to benefit the city as a whole," Whitten said.

Council member Dan Gregg has been questioning what he thinks will be best for the city. It might be time for Eudora to move beyond the appointment system, Gregg said.

"I'm concerned that we have so many positions open that it's too many to have open at one time," Gregg said. "It could put the city at risk with this massive transition."

The current system gives city appointees too little job security, Gregg said.

"Right now the work is at the will and the whim of the council, and having appointed department heads shows a lack of growth for our city," Gregg said. "I don't know why anyone would like to be a department head in Eudora."

Pyle affirmed that the city council would have definite reasons for any decisions it made regarding employee appointments.

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