The City Commission of Arkansas City voted unanimously April 17 to wait to appoint any new members to the South Central Kansas Medical Center Board of Trustees.

This vote took place after much discussion during the commission meeting, as well as a joint meeting between the two boards that took place April 13.

City Manager Nick Hernandez recommended to the commissioners that they hold off on appointing any of the 12 applicants to the two positions that will come open. The terms of trustees Carol Hearne and Dr. Nick Rogers technically expired April 1.

Hernandez also recommended forming a committee to examine the hospital’s finances in order to determine how best to move forward.

Commissioner Jay Warren expressed concern over whether the Board of Trustees should have fewer members or stay at its current nine-person configuration.

Changing the trustees?

Mayor Dan Jurkovich took a more detailed approach to examining the current board makeup.

He had city staff display the charter ordinance that outlines the form and function of the SCKMC Board of Trustees.

Among the items he said he noticed that could be changed were:

  • a reduction in the number of trustees on the board;
  • changing the SCKMC chief executive officer and chief of medical staff from board members to board advisers;
  • granting voting powers to the city commissioner appointed as an ex officio member of the board;
  • changing or eliminating term limits for all board members.

“I don’t think the city manager should be a voting member,” Jurkovich added.

Since the commissioners appoint trustees to the SCKMC board, he said they should take some responsibility for the composition of the board.

“We need to own up. If a board member isn’t a good board member, don’t reappoint them,” he said, arguing that is better than term limits.

Study session scheduled

Commissioner Kanyon Gingher expressed similar opinions to Jurkovich. “We shouldn’t appoint this go-around,” she said.

She agreed that fresh eyes on the financials also would be a “good idea.”

“I don’t think it should be offensive to anyone,” Gingher said.

She made a motion to table the appointment of the two board positions, which was seconded by Warren.

“I think we need to have a work session to go over that,” he said, motioning toward the charter ordinance.

The commissioners voted unanimously to add the charter ordinance to the agenda of a study session that already had been scheduled to discuss the 2017 audit. That meeting will begin at noon April 27 in the city manager’s office at City Hall.

Jurkovich charged the commissioners with going over the charter ordinance on their own in the meantime, while City Attorney Tamara Niles said she will incorporate some of his suggestions into a draft charter ordinance that can be discussed at the study session.

More meetings needed?

Warren also mentioned that he thought it would be a good idea for the SCKMC Board of Trustees to have two regular meetings per month.

He thinks that there isn’t enough time in the lone meeting to ask of all the needed questions and delve into topics in a more in-depth way.

Only one representative from the SCKMC Board of Trustees was in attendance at the meeting — treasurer JoLynn Foster.

“We do have two meetings,” she said in response to Warren.

The first meeting is with just the four members of the executive committee, while the second consists of the entire board.

The first of these “meetings” is not open to the public, though, because a quorum is not present at the committee gatherings.

Warren clarified that he would like to see two public meetings per month. Citizen Vicki Jackson, who has applied to join the board, echoed this sentiment.

“Sure. Okay, I understand,” Foster said.

In other business, the commissioners:

  • issued a proclamation declaring April 27 as Arbor Day in Arkansas City.
  • witnessed the swearing-in of Arkansas City Police Department Officer Madeline Pegorsch.
  • unanimously approved the consent agenda, consisting of the April 3 regular meeting minutes, Jurkovich’s appointments of Carl Bowker and Kate Reilly to the Arkansas City Public Library Board of Trustees, scheduling the April 27 study session, and purchasing a 2018 Dodge Ram 1500 4×2 crew-cab pickup truck with a Tommy Gate from Zeller Motors, for an amount not exceed $25,500.
  • unanimously approved a personnel policy update defining temporary/seasonal and temporary agency positions.
  • unanimously amended the pay ordinance by removing a water treatment facility lead position and fixing the compensation for four new temporary/seasonal city positions.
  • unanimously approved the appointment of Jason O’Toole to the Arkansas City Recreation Commission.
  • unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the city to enter into a project agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation for the City Connecting Links Improvement Program’s Surface Preservation grant for the South Summit Street resurfacing project from Madison Avenue south to the U.S. 77 Bypass.
  • heard updates from Hernandez about the April 19 chamber coffee at the Water Treatment Facility, the Outstanding Student Award banquet on April 23, the State of Strother Field luncheon on April 25 and the 2019 budget retreat on April 28.
  • received the 2017 Arkansas City Police Department annual report.
  • heard a report on Spring Cleanup Week from Public Information Officer Andrew Lawson.
  • held a 7-minute executive session for consultation with Niles that would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship, to discuss legal options for collecting a debt incurred by the City of Arkansas City during the demolition of a dangerous structure.