Archive for Thursday, August 16, 2007

Appointment ordinance squeaks by

August 16, 2007

Starting next May, citizens could know who will hold the city's top jobs for the next two years.

That's because the Eudora City Council passed a charter ordinance Monday to change how the city appoints department heads.

Currently, the mayor appoints department heads with the consent of the council for one year during the first meeting in July.

The city's department heads are the police chief, fire chief, city clerk, parks and recreation director, city treasurer and municipal judge.

If the charter ordinance survives a 60-day protest period, the system should put the city in line with the rest of the state, Eudora Mayor Tom Pyle said.

"It's as we used to do," Pyle said.

The same charter measure stalled in July after failing to get the required four-fifths supermajority of the council.

This time, the ordinance passed with Lori Fritzel, Maria Nelson, Jeff Peterson and Fred Stewart voting for the ordinance. Councilman Bill Whitten voted against the measure.

Fritzel was absent the last time the ordinance went up for a vote.

"I think that it gives the appointed folks more security with their jobs," Fritzel said. "I think that it's a great thing. I think we should have done it a long time ago and I applaud the mayor for sticking with it."

Whitten maintained his stance against the ordinance.

His issue wasn't so much with the two-year term itself, but with the timing of the ordinance, he said.

By extending the department head's term to two years, the council could, in effect, tie the hands of an incoming mayor.

The next mayor would have to wait an entire year before that person could make appointments, Whitten said.

"A lot of times, if you don't like what's going on you vote for change," Whitten said.

The council had little discussion before voting Monday.

The ordinance will be published twice starting this week in The Eudora News.

If citizens submit a protest petition gaining the signatures of at least 10 percent of Eudora's population, the ordinance would be put to a referendum.

Whitten said he would look into the possibility of forming a protest petition.

He said he wasn't sure the mayor and the council members were looking out for the community's interest.

"If the community wished to sign the petition maybe it would show them 'hey, stop and listen to the citizens' and just don't go off what you feel," Whitten said.

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