City HallThe City Commission of Arkansas City approved two additional meetings for the month of May during its May 3 meeting in a 4-0 vote.

The first of these is a work session, in which the commission will have the opportunity to discuss city advisory boards and reorganization of meetings timeline for the city at noon May 13 at City Hall.

This will be one of the first work sessions scheduled since the commission stopped having regular work sessions last year.

When the commissioners voted to discontinue regular work sessions, they did allow for specially called work sessions.

The second meeting the commission approved is to be held starting at 9 a.m. June 10 to discuss budget priorities.

No location for this meeting has been announced yet.

Commissioner Chad Giles was absent from Tuesday night’s meeting.


Commission support

The commission voted unanimously to issue a resolution of support for South Central Kansas Medical Center and for the proposed one-cent, 10-year sales tax to help the medical center to make its annual bond payments.

“Whereas members of the governing body have stated on several occasions that in order to pay the debt service of SCKMC, it is necessary and advisable … to institute the SCKMC Sales Tax, the failure of which could lead to increased property taxes and/or reduced City services to citizens,” Mayor Duane Oestmann read aloud from the text of the resolution, “the governing body of the City of Arkansas City hereby urges all citizens of the City of Arkansas City to vote ‘YES’ to the SCKMC Sales Tax.”

“I think, just as a commission, we should express our support,” said Vice Mayor Dan Jurkovich.

“We did vote to put it on the ballot, but this is saying we support it and we think it’s probably the best way — at least, this is what I’m voting for when I vote — I think it’s probably the best way for us to dig out of the (financial) hole.”

The commissioners also urged citizens in the resolution to return their ballots in a timely manner.

Registered voters who live within the city limits of Arkansas City should start receiving mail-in ballots for the tax today or Thursday. They will have until May 24 to return them to the county clerk’s office.

The resolution also states commissioners’ continuing faith in SCKMC administrators and trustees.

“The governing body of the City of Arkansas City expresses continued support for the efforts of Chief Executive Officer Virgil Watson Jr. and the administration of South Central Kansas Medical Center, as well as the SCKMC Board of Trustees, to improve the medical center’s financial position and better position it to be a leading and sustainable rural health care facility for years to come,” Oestmann read.

Commissioner Charles Tweedy III moved to adopt the resolution as presented and Commissioner Jay Warren seconded the motion.

“I’ve had people tell me different things, what they think ought to happen to the hospital, but no matter what happens to the hospital, we’re going to need some money to pay for the debt,” Jurkovich said.

“And think this is the best way, the fairest way to do that. And in my mind — we’re talking to the citizens of Arkansas City only — this will help us to bring some money from the surrounding areas to help pay for the hospital that we all use. We all use it, and it’s important. It’s nice to have doctors right here in town.”

Questions about the tax may be directed to Andrew Lawson at (620) 441-4415 or alawson@arkansascityks.gov, or Clayton Pappan at (620) 441-5920 or claytonp@sckrmc.org.


In other business, the commission:

  • approved the agenda.
  • approved the consent agenda, which consisted of the minutes from the April 5 and April 18 meetings, personnel policy changes due to state and federal guidelines, and the appointments of several community members to miscellaneous boards with vacant seats.
  • heard a report from City-Cowley County Health Department Director Tom Langer.
  • unanimously tabled a resolution to authorize the city to enter into a contract with JCI to replace the clearwell backwash pump at the water treatment plant for an amount not to exceed $42,104. The commissioners expressed a desire to know what a used pump would cost versus the cost of a new pump as quoted.
  • approved an agreement between the Kansas Department of Transportation secretary and the City of Arkansas City.