City talks changes

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

Iola commissioners can take steps to overhaul the city’s governing body without waiting two years.
Commissioners discussed at their regular meeting Tuesday options for responding to the city vote April 7 to disband the commission in favor of a larger city council. The council would consist of two representatives from each of Iola’s four voting wards and a mayor elected at large.
The change is slated to take effect in April 2011, at which point all existing charter ordinances would be wiped away — unless commissioners draft a new charter before then.
Among the Commission’s options are deciding the new council’s size, the mayor’s role and whether each council member would be chosen at large or only by voters in their ward.
The city would also need to establish term lengths and election schedules for the new council members, City Attorney Chuck Apt said.
If the city decides to have council members elected by ward, then the city will certainly have to redraw its ward boundaries to be sure each ward has roughly the same population, said Apt.
The population in the southwest part of town has plummeted, in large part due to the 2007 flood, he said.
“We haven’t even started” looking into redrawing ward boundaries, Apt said.
Tuesday’s discussion was sparked by a test charter ordinance drafted by Apt.
“I just need to know the direction you’d like to go,” Apt told the commissioners.

MAYOR Bill Maness floated the idea of an employee incentive program in which city crews would be rewarded for coming up with money-saving ideas.
Maness suggested a process through which employees come up with ways to save money, and if those savings are realized, the employee would receive a portion of the difference — perhaps up to 25 percent.
The incentive would prompt city officials to drum up ways to save tax dollars, Maness said, while providing an added carrot for employees to remain working for Iola.
“This is just for discussion,” Maness said.
Commissioner Bill Shirley agreed that such a program may benefit Iola, but wondered if an incentive program should be capped with a maximum award.
Nothing was decided, but commissioners will discuss the matter further.