City commissioners discussed concerns regarding filling spots on city advisory boards during a work session Friday afternoon at City Hall.

City Commission
Courtesy photo

Arkansas City is facing “a crisis of volunteerism,” said Public Information Officer Andrew Lawson. “My generation does not get involved.”

The problem facing the City is how best to fill the boards and entice a younger generation to volunteer for boards that are in need of new members.

This is not true of all boards, though. In fact, there is one in particular that officials indicated might be too big.

The South Central Kansas Medical Center Board of Trustees is a nine-person board, two members of which were sworn in during its last meeting.

“I think nine is too big,” said City Manager Nick Hernandez. “Can you imagine a city commission of nine?”

Commissioner Dan Jurkovich agreed, saying, “I don’t see adequate training on that board.”

The training he referred to includes open meetings rules, as well as learning the subject matter well enough to be an efficient board member. He said sending nine people to hospital board-specific training in another state is impractical.


SKCMC Board of Trustees

One lingering concern for the SCKMC board is that two members should roll off each year, but the terms are out of alignment, likely due to an incorrect appointment in the past, according to Lawson.

Only one member’s term is set to expire in 2017, followed by two each in 2018 and 2019, and three in 2020.

This variation could be corrected by adding or subtracting one year to or from a term that currently is being served, he said.


Building Trades Advisory Board

This board is now fully seated, but the same problem exists in this board as on the SCKMC board — with nine members, five should roll off one year and four the next.

The current rotation is two during one year and seven in the next.

However, a simple change would be to make the terms three years long, instead of two, and have three members roll off each year. That also would align with the code cycles, which are every three or six years, according to Lawson.

Commissioners indicated that staff should proceed with planning for that change, which would require drafting an ordinance to modify municipal code.


Public Building Commission

One vacancy currently exists on the Public Building Commission, which sold the bonds to build SCKMC’s new facility.

Staff said this board’s attractiveness is reduced by the recent hospital finance crisis, as well as the fact the board only meets regularly once per year.

All three current members — David Billings, Mike Munson and Shandon Weston — must be reappointed prior to June 19.

Terms are for two years, so staff recommended staggering them so two members roll off each year.


Board of Zoning Appeals

Two vacancies currently exist on the Board of Zoning Appeals. Other than Planning Commissioner Charles Jennings, members may not serve on any other City board due to an existing ordinance.

“Staff are looking for younger members who do not mind that the board meets infrequently,” Lawson said.

  • May 1, 2018 — Jennings’ term expires
  • May 1, 2019 — The terms of Mary Benton and Carl Mills expire

City staff recommended appointing new members to extended terms to avoid a staggering issue within the board rotation.


Outstanding Young Student Award Committee

Three vacancies currently exist — one person has expressed interest and several other names have been suggested.

City staff are looking for members who are engaged in the community and willing to make a major time commitment, but for just four days a year.

  • May 1, 2017 — The terms of Sydney Bland and Stephanie Wall Brown expire
  • May 1, 2018 — The terms of Tasha Bucher and Toni Greene expire

City Beautification and Tree Advisory Board

The Beautification and Tree Advisory Board still has one vacancy, but two prospective candidates are interested.

This board was created in May 2010 by merging two separate boards together.

  • January 1, 2018 — The terms of Bob Foster, Candace Stephens and Jill Wineinger all expire
  • January 1, 2019 — Peggy Soule’s term expires

No more than two members should drop off in any given year, Lawson said. To accomplish that, term adjustments may be needed.

Commissioners said they would like to see the board work on improving the appearance of the entrances to town.


Planning Commission

This is a difficult board to fill because the meetings vary in frequency, the workload can be the heaviest of any board and two members must reside outside City limits, Lawson said.

One vacancy already existed prior to Commissioner Charles Tweedy’s appointment to the City Commission.

His appointment made it necessary for him to leave the board, creating a second vacancy.

Rather than fill them immediately, commissioners asked staff to look at the possibility of merging the Planning Commission with the Board of Zoning Appeals, as some cities do.

City Planner Josh White said he would research it.


Board combination

Commissioners advised staff to combine two existing, non-functioning boards to create one functioning board.

The two boards that will be combined are the Accessibility Advisory Board and the Human Relations Commission.

Both boards deal with equality issues, including race relations, disability concerns, gender issues and language proficiency.

By combining the boards, the commission hopes to streamline the functions of the boards and to find an adequate number of board members to fill the up to seven vacant seats.


Full boards

With the appointments recommended on the May 17 agenda, the Retired Citizens Advisory Council potentially has all of its seats filled. But one term may need to be adjusted in a year or two.

The Historic Preservation Board is full, but two members’ terms are set to expire in September. Both members are likely to seek reappointment.

The Arkansas City Public Library Board of Trustees and Northwest Community Center Advisory Board also are full, but both may need term adjustments down the line.

There are several other boards that need volunteers. Citizens who are interested should visit the city clerk’s office or contact Lawson at 441-4415 for an application.

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