Council switch talks scheduled

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

An official with the League of Kansas Municipalities will be in Iola Sept. 17 to discuss Iola’s options for converting to a city council form of government. The 2:30 p.m. meeting will be at the Little Theater of the Recreation Community Building in Riverside Park.
Iola voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot referendum in April doing away with the existing three-member city commission in lieu of a larger mayor-council governing system.
Since the election, commissioners have discussed the city’s options, including altering Iola’s charter ordinances to speed up the transition to a city council. Commissioners also wondered how big the incoming city council will be.
Without any intervention, a city council will be formed in April 2011 with eight members, two from each of Iola’s four voting wards. A mayor will be elected at large, but unlike the existing city commission, would only vote to break ties.
Adopting a city council also means the city likely will have to redraw the boundaries of its four voting wards to ensure each is roughly the same size in terms of population.
The Sept. 17 meeting is open to the public.

THE CITY is also seeking public input on what to do in terms of the county’s decision to take over dispatching services in January from Iola Police Department.
At issue is how the Police Department’s office in City Hall will be staffed for walk-up traffic or non-emergency calls. At present, the city and county split the costs for the city to handle 911 calls at city hall.
Come the first of the year, city dispatchers will become county employees and work at their new location, the old Heartland Rural Electric building on North State Street.
Iola City Administrator Judy Brigham asked commissioners Tuesday whether the office should be manned 24 hours a day, during regular business hours or if it should be staffed at all. If the office is unstaffed, Brigham wondered if the city should put in a phone bank at city hall to alert authorities to walk-up traffic.
Mayor Bill Maness encouraged citizens to attend the commission’s Oct. 13 meeting to discuss the issue.