Archive for Thursday, March 29, 2007

City policy change fails

March 29, 2007

The Eudora City Council denied a proposal Monday that would have altered the appointment process for city department chiefs.

The council considered the proposal as an effort to offer more job security to the city's department heads.

An ordinance would have expanded the duration of an appointment from one year to two years. In addition, the charter ordinance would have moved the appointment date from July to May.

"It's really just a policy change," Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said.

The change gained approval from Councilmen Dan Gregg and Jeff Peterson and Councilwoman Lori Fritzel. Councilman Bill Whitten voted against it.

Because it was a charter ordinance it would have required a supermajority of at least four council members voting in its favor. Councilman Scott Hopson was absent from the meeting.

The mayor appoints each department head, with the consent of the council, during the first meeting of July.

Eudora Mayor Tom Pyle said he would like to eventually move to a two-year appointment period for the department heads.

The police chief, fire chief, parks and recreation director, and city superintendent would all have been affected by the new policy.

The city's other department heads are the city clerk, city attorney, assistant city clerk, city treasurer and municipal judge.

If the charter ordinance had passed, the appointment procedure wouldn't have changed until 2008 because it would have become effective 60 days after being published twice in The Eudora News, the city's official legal publication.

By waiting until next year, the appointments would happen each year opposite of the elections.

Whitten saw a flaw in the set up.

The appointment schedule could tie an incoming mayor's hands if he or she didn't approve of the previous mayor's appointments, Whitten said.

On a flipside, the schedule would give council members the ability to spend at least a full year with the department heads, Peterson said.

If job performance becomes an issue, the council would always have options, Beatty said.

"Even if any of these department heads are appointed, if they not performing their job duties they can be terminated just like any city employee," Beatty said.

The council still ultimately has power in the mayor-council form of government, Beatty said.

"The mayor may appoint someone, but in the long term, the council still has the right to let them go," Beatty said.

Eudora Parks and Recreation Director Tammy Hodges said she could see the mayor's point.

"I know in the past the attention that comes when it comes to the appointment time," Hodges said. "It kind of gives you a sense of security, if it does go to more than one year."

Although the vote Monday failed, the ordinance might come back before the city council.

"It will be delayed," Pyle said.

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