The City Commission of Arkansas City voted for the second time June 20 to table an ordinance that would alter Arkansas City Municipal Code to require tree trimmers to have a license.

This ordinance had been tabled once before for further examination. It first was discussed June 6.

The commissioners also met June 16 for a study session to discuss in more depth some of the changes outlined in the ordinance, which would make multiple changes to the chapter that governs buildings and building regulations. Among those changes are allowing more flexibility to appoint laymen to the Building Trades Advisory Board and creating a license for tree trimming.

However, there still were aspects of the ordinance with which some commissioners did not agree.

Commissioner Dan Jurkovich said he only would vote in favor if the wording requiring tree trimmers to have licenses, bonds and insurance is left out of the final draft.

“I want to promote commerce,” he said, citing an example of his son trimming a neighbor’s branches for $25, saying the ordinance could interpret that as contract work requiring a license.

“If my son were to trim the neighbor’s trees, if they were to hire him to do it, he would have to have a license,” Jurkovich argued.

But Carl Bowman, chair of the Building Trades Board, questioned Jurkovich’s reasoning.

“The (tree trimmers) came to us and asked us to do this,” he said. All but one trimmer who attended the board’s April meeting supported the change.

Bowman said requiring of a license will help to protect homeowners and the companies themselves. In the event of an accident, not only will there be sufficient liability insurance to pay for damages, but the city also has the option to pull the bond to reimburse the homeowner and most likely prevent the trimmer from working in other communities that also require a bond.

Jurkovich’s point was taken into consideration, however.

City Attorney Tamara Niles suggested a specification of what branch circumference might mandate the need for a license, but ultimately agreed it would be difficult to enforce.

This ordinance was tabled until the first commission meeting in August for more consideration. Staff offered to tighten the definition of a tree trimming contractor.

The Building Trades Board also will consider all of the proposed changes, as well as possible adjustments to the technical codes that have not yet been presented to the City Commission, at its meeting July 20.

In other business, the commission:

  • heard a presentation from Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum Director Sandy Randel regarding the museum’s 2018 budget request.
  • heard from Ted Kadau regarding the placement of a fence by his neighbor. Niles told Kadau it was a private property dispute and the city had no authority to weigh in on the matter.
  • unanimously approved the consent agenda, which included the rescheduling of the July 4 commission meeting to July 11 and canceling the Municipal Court session on July 4.
  • unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the city to enter into an agreement with the City of Winfield and Cowley County Rural Fire District No. 6 to provide fire protection services to District No. 6, which encompasses Strother Field. The two cities split 5 mills of property tax to provide these services. There is no change from the prior agreement, which was extended.
  • unanimously approved a resolution scheduling the following additional City Commission meetings to discuss the 2016 audit and 2018 budget:
    • a study session at noon June 30 in the city manager’s office at City Hall;
    • the rescheduled meeting at 5:30 p.m. July 11 in the commission room;
    • study sessions at noon July 14 and July 21 in the city manager’s office;
    • a special budget meeting at 5:30 p.m. July 25 in the commission room.
  • unanimously voted to table until July 11 a resolution that would authorize a contract with Layne Christensen Company, of Wichita, to offset Well No. 5 and drill a new water well to replace the existing well, for an amount not to exceed $149,471. Commissioner Jay Warren said the quoted prices seemed high and asked Public Works Director Eric Broce to negotiate them.
  • unanimously approved a resolution creating a Traffic Safety Committee that will meet quarterly and voted 4-1 to appoint Commissioner Karen Welch, a former 911 dispatcher, to serve on the committee. Commissioner Charles Tweedy III cast the dissenting vote, expressing a desire to appoint a commissioner who is not up for re-election this fall to help with continuity.
  • heard updates from City Manager Nick Hernandez on a possible land swap with the Arkansas City Public School District in the area of the new Water Treatment Facility and the district’s bus barn, which eventually could lead to the closure of Fifth Street between Washington and Adams avenues; the employee appreciation luncheon and free showing of “The Lego Batman Movie” on June 23 at Wilson Park; and the strong turnout for the Amtrak inspection train visit June 9, the 35th Infantry Division of the Kansas Army National Guard band concert June 15 — which finished just before a thunderstorm rolled in — and the free showing of “Sing” in Newkirk, which had to be stopped due to the same storm and will be rescheduled at a later date, Hernandez said. Mayor Duane Oestmann mentioned the thank-you letter received from the grandparents of Ulrich Pricer, who rode the Amtrak train from Ark City to Wichita. Tweedy said there also was a strong turnout June 17 at the Strother Field Fly-In and Car Show, and Welch commended the area Lions Clubs for their statue dedication and picnic that same day.

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