By Julie Pots
Council Member Bill Baker brought forth a list of requests at Monday night’s Rose Hill City Council meeting and again exposed an ongoing rift between council factions. Baker wants details of attorney billings. The city chose to enter a contract to reduce its month billing about 50 percent, so details have to be requested by council. Baker requested a paper copy of Administrator Austin Gilley’s PowerPoint that is viewed by each council member at each meeting via individual laptops. He also asked for more flood information because last flood he did not know what was happening.
“This isn’t about transparency, Mr. Baker, this is about control,” Gilley said. “If you want me to provide a monthly statement to you regarding everything I do, I can do that. The presentation is available at every meeting. All anyone has to do is ask.”
Council Member Bob Klem said he believes the problem is that the council has the responsibility to know what is going on. Council Member Roger Perryn stated he would just like to get past “this.”
Gilley agreed that it’s council’s job, as the council body, to know what is going on, but “you have to ask for detail as a council, not as individuals. I am not going to play these games.”
Baker said that if he had any questions about bills from the city attorney, he would call the mayor. Gilley said he has offered multiple times to meet with Baker, but Baker refuses to meet with him. Baker said he refuses to meet with Gilley “because you set me up and lie about me and demean me.”
Mayor Beth Pompa interjected, “When is going to stop? I am done with this!” She asked if there was a motion Baker would like to make. Baker made a lengthy one regarding attorney billing statements, but no second was offered and the motion died.
“You (Baker) have to ask for (the detail),” Klem said.
“But I can’t ask for it, the council has to,” Baker said.
“So what? We still can!” said Council Member Ross Chappell.
Gilley said that since it’s a contract billing then council as a whole must ask for it from the attorney. Chappell said he would do that.
Looking at Klem, Chappell stated: “Are you afraid we won’t (agree) to that? I’ll do it.”
“Well yeah, it’s been that way for a little bit,” Klem replied.
Council President Roger Perryn said he recently wanted a paper copy of Gilley’s meeting presentation, called Gilley about it, and received one right away.
“Just ask (Gilley) for it,” Perryn said. Pompa agreed, stating that a motion regarding the distribution of paper copies was unnecessary.
The council also received reports from staff and citizens.
Long-time citizen Harold Beedles addressed the council, inviting members to a presentation at 6 p.m. tonight (10/20/2016) featuring a writer from Rose Hill who was a former POW. A second citizen, Mindy Runnalls, asked about the possibility of placing information regarding the coming library speaker on the Rose Hill City FB page. Councilman Bill Baker requested a change in the agenda to add a discussion of the council’s attorney billing procedure and was granted that change.
Next up was Rose Hill’s new Police Chief Nelson Mosley, who gave a very impressive and detailed summary of his first three months on the job. Nelson was appointed on July 17. He is steadily implementing the philosophy of Community Policing as a priority with the police department. He noted several recent activities such as chamber involvement, senior center breakfasts, a children’s puppet show at the library, the Charlie Futhey event, the emergency services recognition dinner, and the annual fall festival. Mosley mentioned that in addition to the very good article in the Rose Hill Reporter, the Derby Informer also ran an article August 10.
Among the chief’s priorities are the updating of policies and procedures, uniforms and equipment and officer training. Something else he is researching is reviving the Crime Stoppers program. He is currently inventorying equipment and uniforms, as many were hand-me-downs. The standard uniform will be dark blue. To display officer awards, he is planning on purchasing different uniform bars that will be given to wear on an officer’s uniform when they receive special recognition. The chief also noted that the reserve officer count was up to seven now.
Chris Wendt, representing the Rose Hill Historical Society, asked that the council approve some temporary road closures during the Old Time Christmas festivities scheduled for December 10. They asked for a donation of just $400.00 to hire a second transportation trolley. Wendt stated that the first trolley was being sponsored by the Rose Hill Veterinary Clinic, and noted that would also be two horse drawn carriages as well. The council approved both the street closings and the $400.00 donation to support the second trolley.
Gilley discussed lightning damage to the traffic light and the fact that the city of Rose Hill is one of the most transparent cities in Kansas and also noted that not a single records request had gone unanswered to date.
Gilley also talked about updating zoning regulations regarding cell towers in the right-of-way. Perryn commented that recent laws have been passed that make cell carriers free to install cell towers in the right-of-way giving cities no say in where they put them.
Analyzing The Ongoing Council Feud
Baker was unhappy with previous city administrator Kathy Raney. He attended meeting after meeting, constantly criticizing both her and the city council. Eventually, Raney quit and Baker took full credit for her departure as he prepared to run for city council himself. Gilley’s knowledge, experience and education far exceed Kathy Raney’s (no offense intended) but Baker and Klem are still not satisfied. Growth would mean a certain loss of control to those who want to maintain Rose Hill as it is. They can feel control slipping away each month Gilley and the current council move toward the future and away from the old ways of staying a bedroom community.
For a long time, it has felt like the city motto was, “Come here and raise your children, and when they are grown go back where you came from.” With the exception of Klem and Baker, who insist on treating the mayor with disrespect, the remaining council members are a true blessing for the entire city – respectful, open to new ideas and discussions, and considerate of their fellow council members.
The current council, administrator, and mayor are not responsible for the city’s woes. They did not cause the sewer cost to be underestimated by hundreds of thousands. The old regime did. They are not responsible for the fact that Rose Hill’s contract with the Wichita Water Department has no limitations on how many times per year the rates can increase, unlike other cities close by. Again, this was the old regime. As Gilley noted, he will always make himself available to the council members. It’s not proper protocol for individual members to take action without a vote of the entire council.