July 22, 2014

City council still considering BPU options

Debbie Hickman
Special to The Gardner News
Council member Heath Freeman would like to schedule a work session dedicated to laying the foundation for the creation of a Gardner board of public utilities (BPU). Freeman suggested the work session at the tail end of the April 21 council meeting.
Freeman explained that the council “gets lost in options” and needs a starting point.  He believes a BPU is the best solution for the city of Gardner.
At the end of the proposed work session, Freeman said he would like council to reach a consensus on how to move forward with an ordinance for a BPU.
After such discussion, he feels the city attorney, Ryan Denk, could be asked to draft an ordinance.
Although council members, Kristy Harrison and Tory Roberts are not sure, at this point, how to best manage the city’s utilities; they agreed Freeman’s suggestion gives them “somewhere to start.”  Steve Shute, council member, stood behind Freeman’s proposal of a June 9 work session.
Mayor Chris Morrow said before drafting a BPU ordinance, he would like the council to have a work session to discuss the presentations from officials from the city of McPherson and Ottawa. Morrow said the council had not “really vetted the conversation” from the April 15 work session.
Council updates also provided the opportunity for discussion on the upcoming May 5 work session, which will be prior to the city council meeting, to address Charter Ordinance 19.  The ordinance sets the city’s requirements for council member eligibility among other things.
Council member Tory Roberts sent a strong message when she spoke about time constraints on work sessions held prior to council meetings.  Roberts commented to The Gardner News that she feels there needs to be a sense of urgency to get things done and on some issues that cannot be accomplished in an hour.  Because Charter Ordinance 19 contains many areas up for discussion, she would be committed to attending a work session with no time deadlines to accomplish what is needed.
In response to a question from Morrow, city attorney Denk indicated that it was possible to amend one part of Charter Ordinance 19 without having to address all items at once and repeal the entire ordinance.
The next scheduled work session to address Charter Ordinance 19 will be held prior to the May 5 city council meeting with a start time of 6pm.

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