John Fiore

Fiore_takes_over_MayorMayor John Fiore (center) presides over the first minutes of his new office along side Vice-Mayor Tim Reazin and outgoing Mayor Ruth Hughs (photo by Eudorareporter.com Managing Editor John Schulz)

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

The Eudora City Commission selected John Fiore as the next Mayor of the City of Eudora. Tim Reazin was named the Vice-Mayor for the next year.

Fiore has served the last year as Vice-Mayor and has been on the City Commission since his election in 2011. Reazin is the longest sitting Commissioner having served the city since 2009.  Reazin won a second term in office in the 2013 city-wide elections.

Under the Commission-Manager form of government the city adopted in 2013, the sitting Commissioners choose who will fill the Mayor and Vice-Mayor positions.

While the vote for the Mayor and Vice-Mayor was unanimous by the Commission, it didn’t start off that way. Mayor Ruth Hughs asked for nominations for the position of Mayor. After a long pause waiting for nominations from the Commissioners, Hughs then nominated Fiore for the job. Councilman Kenny Massey very quickly spoke up with concerns about falling into a habit of promoting the Vice-Mayor to Mayor.

“As you all remember, when we had the consultant talk to us about changing the form of government, he gave us several examples of bad experiences,” Kenny Massey said. “I want us to be cautious of automatic ascension.”  Massey did not elaborate on any of those experiences that were discussed in 2012.

Fiore, who’s nomination was on the floor during this discussion, brought up the point that there are some responsibilities with being Mayor.

“It’s important to make sure that whoever is nominated is willing and able to take on the responsibilities of Mayor,” Fiore said.  “There are a lot of city events the Mayor is required to participate in.”

Hughs, who has served as Mayor for the last 12 months said that she was surprised how much time the Mayor’s position takes to do the job.  Massey then stated that is why he called “a time out”. He said that the Commission should consider Reazin for the Mayoral job.

“I think he’s the longest sitting Council member up here and because of his schedule and the way he rotates, his availability is a lot better,” Massey said. Reazin currently is employed as a firefighter in Lawrence and works a 24 hour shift approximately 10 days a month.

Hughs brought up the fact that Reazin has had to leave meetings prior to their conclusion due to his need to return to job at the fire station in Lawrence.

“I know Tim hires somebody to take his time, but he then has to leave and miss some of the more important parts of the meeting,” Hughs said. “Often the end of the meeting would be without a Mayor. I think that’s kind of critical.”

Reazin responded that it has only happened when there is a four hour meeting.

“We can’t be guaranteed that they all aren’t going to be,” Hughs replied.

After some continuing discussions on why both Fiore and Reazin felt they were ready for the job, Hughs stated her motion still stands for Fiore as Mayor. Jolene Born seconded the nomination and the Commission voted unanimously for Fiore. After Fiore took over the meeting as Mayor, he called for nominations of the Vice-Mayor and Kenny Massey and Ruth Hughs seconded the motion. The Commission made a very quick and unanimous vote in favor of Reazin for Vice-Mayor.

After the meeting, Fiore spoke about being named Mayor.

“It’s a great honor and distinction to be named Mayor, but really all five of us are equal members of the governing body and we all look to work towards the same goal of making Eudora great,” Fiore said.

Share

Mayor Ruth HughsEudora Mayor Ruth Hughs moments after she was voted in as Mayor by the City Commission (photo by Managing Editor John Schulz)

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

With a rather quick and simple vote, Ruth Hughs was elected by the new City Commission as Mayor of the City of Eudora.  Hughs becomes the 48th Mayor of Eudora and the very first woman to hold the office in the city’s history.

While the exact length of her term was not stated nor decided upon, traditionally in the Commission-Manager form of government, the Mayor serves for one year as Mayor.

With some surprise, there was no discussion on how to choose a Mayor.  In the weeks leading up to tonight’s City Commission meeting, the Commissioners had all stated individually that they had no idea how the decision would be made. It was expected that some sort of formula based on election results would be at least discussed.  That discussion never happened.

Reazin-BornCommissioners Tim Reazin and Jolene Born take the oath of office during the Eudora City Commission meeting Monday night (photo by Managing Editor John Schulz)

The process began with the inauguration of incumbent Tim Reazin and new Commissioner Jolene Born. At that point, Mayor Hopson and Commissioner Bill Whitten left the dais as their terms came to a close with a thunderous applause from the audience.  Born and Reazin took their seats and Hughs ran the meeting from that point as she was the President of the Commission.

Hughs’ first order of business was to have the Commission select a Mayor. Hughs said she would like to have a discussion and then entertain a motion. Hughs barely got the words out of her mouth when Commissioner Kenny Massey spoke up.

“My discussion is that I make a motion that we elect Ruth Hughs as Mayor,” Massey said.

With an even faster speed then Clark Kent changing into his Superman outfit,  Reazin seconded the motion and the entire Commission voted in favor of Hughs. It took exactly 32 seconds (yes, we timed it) from the beginning of Hughs request for a discussion on the topic to Hughs being voted in as Mayor. (18 seconds of that was Hughs asking for a discussion on the matter.)

Vice Mayor John FioreVice Mayor John Fiore looks on as the Commission nominates him for the position (photo by Managing Editor John Schulz)

Next in the process was to select a Vice-Mayor.  Massey spoke up again and nominated Commissioner John Fiore to serve as the first Vice-Mayor in the city’s history.

“I think with John’s experience with the Chamber of Commerce and other activities he has been involved within the community, he would be an excellent choice.  I will make a motion to nominate John Fiore as Vice-Mayor,” Massey said.

The Vice-Mayor nomination had a much longer discussion. This one took the Commission 44 seconds to handle.  Fiore’s nomination also passed unanimously.

“I’m honored for the opportunity to serve as the first female Mayor in the City of Eudora,” Hughs said following the meeting. “I look forward to working steadfastly to continue the momentum we have in place and I look forward to Eudora becoming the very best city we can be.”

Fiore also was humble in his nomination as Vice-Mayor.

“I appreciate the great confidence the Commission has in me,” Fiore said. “This truly is a great honor to serve our city.”

Commissioner Bill Whitten left immediately after the swearing in ceremony was complete. He made reference how he had his coveralls in the truck along with his ATV and was planning on going mushroom hunting following the ceremony.  We think he was looking forward to retirement.

Share

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

Monday’s city Council meeting had a rather unique twist. Most of the time, the City Council and media members receive information about what is going to be discussed that night.  This past Monday night on the agenda was simply the statement “Discuss Governing Body pay”.   No further information was given to Council members or media members about this discussion, other than the fact that the Mayor wanted to have a discussion about this topic.

What we thought would be a discussion about the rate of pay, turned out to be about Governing Body attendance.

Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson began the discussion with the idea about tying council member pay to attendance at meetings.  Currently, City Council members receive $200 per month and the Mayor receives $250 per month.

While Hopson did not have clear cut ideas on how to address the topic, he did eventually suggest setting up a policy for “excused and unexcused” absences and setting a benchmark for how many unexcused absences a Council member could have before any pay was docked.  Councilman John Fiore did bring up the fact that some council members schedules may not be conducive to constant attendance.

“I’ve got a day job that is easy for me to be here by 7, but I know that at least two of our Council members don’t have that luxury with their schedule,” Fiore said referring to Councilmen Bill Whitten and Tim Reazin who are full time fire fighters in other municipalities.

“I don’t want to tell Tim or Bill, or Kenny or Ruth for that matter, or you (referring to the Mayor) because you had some terrible issues right when I started where you were out of town helping out with disaster victims and I don’t want to tell you ‘Hey don’t help those disaster victims because you have only so many excused absences’, Fiore added.

Councilman Reazin also brought up the fact that when the pay for the governing body was raised in 2011, the idea was that the money was not solely for attendance at Council meetings but to help reimburse council members for other outside meetings and their time spent preparing for the meetings as well as giving back to the community in the form of donations to various charitable fundraisers that occur regularly.

Reazin and Councilman Kenny Massey both suggested that the idea that excused versus unexcused absences would lead to causing people to lie about why they were not in attendance.

“This is a commitment and you signed up for this when you put your name on the ballot,” Massey said. “I think if you get elected to these positions you should be here.”

Massey did also reiterate Fiore’s earlier comment about the fact that Reazin and Whitten have extenuating circumstances due to their full time employment, but said that members can somewhat plan their schedules and plan ahead for things such as vacation.

“I think it should just be X number of absences per calendar year and if you go over that, then you get docked,” Massey added.

While no formal decision was made, the consensus was that further discussions would need to take place and some formal determinations in a work session should occur in the near future.

We took a look at the minutes from each meeting in both 2011 and 2012 to verify the number of absences for Council members and the Mayor.

In 2011, there was 23 City Council meetings.  Mayor Hopson missed the most with eight absences.   Bill Whitten and Tim Reazin missed six meetings each with Kenny Massey, Ruth Hughs and John Fiore all missing one meeting apiece.

In 2012,  to date, there has been 15 meetings with Tim Reazin missing five and Bill Whitten missing four, including this very meeting where the discussion took place.  All other Council members and the Mayor have attended all 2012 meetings.

Share

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

Douglas County has been selected as an Entrepreneurship (E-) Community and has been awarded $125,000 in tax credits, enabling the Douglas County E-Community to raise $166,667 to be loaned to small town local businesses.

These tax credits, which can be bought by individuals or corporations, will allow purchasers to use the tax credit for the 2011 tax year. In addition, if the amount of the tax credit exceeds the contributors liability in the taxable year, then the remaining portion can be carried forward until the total amount of credit is applied. For example, if you have a $1,000 income tax liability and you purchased $10,000 of tax credits. Those tax credits would roll over for 10 years.  The minimum amount that can be purchased is $250.00 which would come to a $187.50 tax credit.

Collin Bielser, Management/Economic Analyst for the City of Eudora, assembled a local leadership team of representatives of the small town communities in the county to try to push forward this effort.  Included on the team are: Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman,  Eudora City Councilman John Fiore,  De Soto City Councilwoman Bonnie Plumberg,  Deborah Barr (of Byrne’s Pharmacy), Peach Madl, Mark Tunstall, Jimmy Wilkins, and Will Katz, Director of the Small Business Development Center at Kansas University.

The leadership team will determine the strategy and vision for the E-Community. A separate financial review board will evaluate prospective loan applications from local businesses.

“This is a great way to help give back to your local community,” Bielser said. “Not only can you help yourself or your business, you are empowering other businesses to help themselves.”

Only businesses in Eudora, Baldwin City and Lecompton will be able to apply for the matching loans.  Due to population size, Lawrence businesses will not be eligible.

“The Douglas County communities of Eudora, Baldwin, and Lecompton are excited to be a part of the E-Community program. The program provides opportunities for aspiring citizens and current local businesses to expand and grow our business base,” said John Fiore of the Eudora City Council.

The sale of the tax credits will go on through mid-December.  For those interested in purchasing tax credits, you can contact Collin Bielser at 785-542-4111 or via email at: cbielser@cityofeudora.com

Share

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

The biggest story of the night from the Eudora City Council meeting was not the city budget (which we will report about in the coming days), nor was it about a new use for Nottingham School.  It was about birds.

The City Council held a work session to look into allowing fowl to be raised at residences inside the city limits.  Currently, city ordinances do not allow fowl of any type to be raised in the city. The City was looking into allowing certain fowl, including female chickens, ducks or quail.

The issue came to light when Jay Wilson, a local resident, was found to have several dozen quail on his property located in and near his garage. Wilson petitioned the City Council, per the current ordinances, to keep his quail which as he stated, were a hobby for him.  Tori Gezel, another young resident of the city had also recently petitioned the City Council about raising three chickens on the property she lives at with her family.

Reactions were very mixed as to even allow it anything at all. Council members Kenny Massey and Tim Reazin were rather vocal in their opposition to allowing any fowl.  Both agreed that administration of any type of ordinance allowing birds would consume city resources.  Codes administration would be involved since they would have to approve any buildings built to house birds and likely police we need to verify and enforce any complaints filed by residents about someone having too many birds or not housed properly.

Council President Ruth Hughs, while not coming down on one side or the other, stated that she had some constituents say that they were afraid having chickens next door to them would lower their property values.

Councilman Bill Whitten’s line of questions through the session made it seem like he was in favor of some ordinance allowing fowl and Councilman John Fiore, while not speaking much on the subject, appeared to also support some type of resolution.

During the session, Hughs, Whitten and Fiore wondered how many people would even want fowl and what would the neighbors desire.

The big question that was asked by City Administrator John Harrenstein at the end of the session was if he and staff should do any further work towards writing proposed legislation. There was no resounding directive by anyone to work further. Massey and Reazin indicated that the topic should be dropped and not taken further.

This leads to our newest poll question: Do you think that citizens should be allowed to raise a limited number of fowl inside the city limits? It’s a simple yes/no answer.  You can vote in the box on the upper right hand side of the web site. Simply click your answer and then hit “Vote”.  Let your leaders hear from you and what you think.  You can also use the comment section of this story if you wish to leave a longer answer

Share