A permanent location hasn’t been decided, but Iola’s new city council will hold its inaugural meeting at the New Community Building at Riverside Park April 18.
Iola commissioners approved Monday the site change to accommodate the large crowd that’s certain to be in attendance for the changeover.
City planners have noted that having an eight-member council, plus having the meetings at night to encourage more citizens to attend, could make it difficult to continue having meetings at City Hall because of overflowing crowds.
Commissioner Craig Abbott noted having the meetings at the park would be preferable to another option suggested last month, renovating a soon-to-be vacated city building at 2 E. Jackson Ave.
That building contains Thrive Allen County offices until Thrive moves down the street to the old Rockin’ B building later this month.
It will be up to the new council members to decide on the permanent day and time for future meetings, the existing commissioners have said.
IN A RELATED matter, commissioners directed City Administrator Judy Brigham to begin the advertising process to find a new city administrator. Brigham has announced she will retire when her contract expires in September.
There is one caveat to the search, noted City Attorney Chuck Apt: the city administrator’s duties could change when the new council is seated. As per state law, many of the city administrator’s duties are assigned to the mayor under the mayor-council form of government.
The new council could approve a charter ordinance to reassign those duties to the city administrator, but those decisions must wait until the new council is seated.
Brigham said the uncertainty regarding the new administrator’s duties might limit the number of applicants at the start of the process.
“I’m not sure I’d apply if I was considering it,” Brigham said.
Commissioners suggested sending a letter to each of the applicants to explain the city’s unique situation.
“It’s such a lengthy process (to find a candidate),” Mayor Bill Maness said. “We need to get started.”
THE COMMISSION will not hold a regular second meeting in March because Commissioners Craig Abbott and Bill Shirley said they would be out of town March 21. With no quorum on hand, there is no way to schedule an adjourned meeting later that week, as stipulated by the city’s new charter ordinance that set the meeting dates to the first and third Mondays of each month.
The commission will likely hold a special meeting that week, but only to consider contractors to handle earth work west of the old railroad corridor near Scott Street.
Inadequate drainage along the corridor, coupled with new construction along State Street in recent years has made flooding an annual concern along Scott Street.
“We need to do everything we can to expedite the process,” Maness said. “The rainy season is about to get here, and these people don’t need to worry about it flooding every time it rains.”
The commission’s next regular meeting will be at 6 p.m. April 4.