Archive for Thursday, November 1, 2007

City voters to decide fate of ordinance

November 1, 2007

As Nov. 6 approaches, the big issue is the $45 million school bond. However, citizens also will be voting on Charter Ordinance No. 10, which will decide whether or not the mayor, upon approval of the city council, can appoint department heads for two years instead of one year.
Mayor Tom Pyle supported the measure when it went before and was approved by the Eudora City Council.
"The problem I found in interviews (with prospective employees) is it's hard to get people to commit to move here if we only give them a one-year contract," Pyle said.
Pyle said that it's a matter of providing incentives in order to hold on to good employees.
City Councilman Bill Whitten voted against the measure and then started a successful protest petition drive that resulted in the measure landing on the ballot.
"It's not that I have a problem with two-year contracts for department heads, but just the timing of the vote," Whitten said. "If our mayor appoints someone this year and then he's not in office the next year, it could cause problems if a new mayor doesn't like who the old mayor appointed and wants to fire him after one year.
"I asked the city council 'Would it increase the risk of us having a successful lawsuit against us?' and the answer was yes."
Pyle believes if an employee was properly terminated for good cause, "the city's liability for that action would be no more than if Charter Ordinance had never passed"
The wording on the ballot has confused some voters.
Douglas County Clerk Jameson Shew said a vote of "yes" means the voter grants the mayor, with the approval of the city council, the ability to appoint department heads for two-year terms. A vote of "no" means the voter does not grant the mayor, with the approval of the city council, the ability to appoint department heads for two-year terms and would keep department head terms at one year.

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