City of the Second Class

Governor Mark Parkinson signs the proclamation declaring Eudora a City of the Second Class 

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

In December 2010, the City of Eudora was elevated by gubernatorial proclamation to a City of the Second Class.  This designation was made because the population of Eudora rose above 5,000.

One change of being designated a Second Class City, is the possibility of a new form of government.   By state statute, cities of the Second Class are to have a Commission based form of government.  Cities of the Third Class, which Eudora was prior to the elevation in designation, have a Mayor/Council form of government.

At Monday night’s City Council meeting, the City Council took the first step towards changing the form of government.

The Council directed city attorney’s and city staff to begin to draft language for a public ballot initiative, likely to appear on the November General Election ballot, that will eliminate the Mayor as an elected position and move to a Commission based form of government.

The citizens of the city would have to approve this change in the form of government by a simple majority.

To show what the City government would look like if this measure passes, you only need to look to our neighbor to the west, Lawrence.  Lawrence has five City Commissioners with the two highest vote getters from the last election being named Mayor and Vice Mayor respectively. The Vice Mayor then is named Mayor the following year.  The “Mayor” is a voting member of the Commission, presides over the committee meetings and handles any ceremonial roles in the city as necessary.

While current state statute says that a City Commission is made up of only three Commissioners, a charter ordinance would likely be passed by the Eudora City Council to keep the number of Commissioners at the current level of five.

“I don’t feel right now, as Mayor, I’m doing a service to the City under the form of government we currently have,” Mayor Scott Hopson said.

In 2009, shortly after Hopson became mayor, the decision was made by the City Council in agreement with the mayor, to no longer have the mayor appoint the department supervisors and instead move to a system where they are employees of the city at the direction of the City Administrator.

“I don’t think that today’s government structure that we have, given the population and that I gave away the appointments,” Hopson added, “the day I gave those up, is the day when Eudora outgrew the Mayor’s position.”

All the members of the City Council unanimously expressed interest in pursuing this route of changing the form of government.

“I think we’ve grown up,” Councilwoman Ruth Hughs said.

The next several months will be interesting as the current City Council looks at this issue and determines what course the new form of government will take.  As it stands right now, and presuming the change in the form of government is approved, next April citizens will be voting for candidates to fill the two City Council seats up for reelection.  Those seats are currently held by Tim Reazin and Bill Whitten.  The other three Council members, John Fiore, Ruth Hughs and Kenny Massey,  were elected in 2011 and will serve until 2015.

Mayor Scott Hopson could go down in history as the last elected Mayor in the City of Eudora.

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Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

The Eudora City Council is looking at changing how the city of Eudora is governed.

At the City Council meeting on Monday night, The Council heard a presentation from Dr. John Nalbandian, a faculty member in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Kansas. Nalbandian also served on the Lawrence City Commission during the 1990’s and served two years as Mayor of Lawrence during his time on the commission.  Nalbandian outlined how the city government of Eudora is currently setup and showed alternatives from nearby cities including Lawrence and Ottawa and some cities with larger population bases.

The form of government question came about when the City of Eudora became a City of the Second class in December, 2010.  The state has regulations on how cities of the Second Class govern themselves that are different from Third Class cities. Cities have the option of chartering out of the regulations and can continue governing as they had in the past. Eudora chartered out of those regulations earlier this year.

Currently, the City of Eudora is governed by the City Council who votes on all issues presented to the Council and the Mayor does not vote unless it’s to break a tie. As the Mayor learned during the presentation on Monday night, he also has veto power in Eudora, which can be overridden by the City Council with a supermajority.

Many on both the past and present City Council feel the Mayor should have more power than tie-breaking and purely ceremonial duties.  Newly elected Council member John Fiore stated “I feel the Mayor should be on more of an equal footing with the Council.”

Current Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson feels the city should move to a model similar to Lawrence and do away with a person elected solely as “Mayor”.  In Lawrence, three out of the five city commissioners are voted on every two years and they highest two vote getters in that election are then named mayor for a one year term during the next two years.

“I think a system like that (referring to Lawrence) would keep everything more honest” Hopson said. “With a powerful mayor, there is the possibility to manipulate the system.”

There are two ways the City Council can change the form of government. They have the option of simply passing an ordinance that allows more power to the Mayor’s position. The down side to this is that it can be easily changed or reversed by future Councils.

The other, more complicated way, is by offering a resolution to change the Eudora’s constitution. By offering a possible change to the City Constitution, it requires a vote by the citizens of Eudora in an election and it means that all City Council members would then have to run for election again.  The number of City Council members could also be enlarged or reduced, depending on what the current City Council would propose.

We want to find out what you think. Do you feel that the Mayor should be given more power in governing the City? Do you think that the city should move to a Commissioner based system in Lawrence? We have set up a poll question on the right hand side of our site to give you the chance to weigh in on your thoughts. You also, as with any story on eudorareporter.com, leave your comments below.

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(l to r) Council Members Tim Reazin, Ruth Hughs, Gov. Mark Parkinson,

Mayor Scott Hopson and City Administrator John Harrenstein

While Eudora may be a first class city to many of its residents, the city has been designated a city of the 3rd Class since the state adopted the class system. Today, Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson, by official proclamation, designated the City of Eudora a City of the Second Class.

The class system for all cities in Kansas is based on population. Cities below 2000 residents are considered 3rd Class Cities and those above 15,000 residents are cities of the first class.

This change in designation, allows the city to do two things. First, if approved by the City Council and a vote of the electorate, the city can alter its form of government dividing into precinct wards and give the power for the mayor to vote in City Council decisions.  The City Administrator can also be given, with City Council approval, additional powers to perform his duties.

Secondly, this allows the city to alter its taxation policies in regards to outlying areas.  Both of these possible changes will be discussed in future City Council meetings.

City Administrator John Harrenstein, in an interview with Eudorareporter.com, said that these changes are being looked at by City Council members but he has not received any directives thus far to move towards changing the form of government.

Governor Parkinson in his remarks at the ceremony mentioned how he has been impressed by the growth in the City of Eudora.  “About 20 years ago my wife and I almost moved to Eudora” Parkinson said. “My wife was up for a job in the Lawrence area, and we really liked Eudora. She did not get the position so we never made the move.”

Parkinson also went on to tell those in attendance that he thinks the cleanup of the old Farmland Industries property just east of Lawrence could help spur more development to the east and help Eudora grow even more.

Mayor Hopson added how with the completion of the Lawrence Memorial Medical Building and the possibility of further development on the Church Street corridor could also have a large impact on the town’s population.

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