The City Commission of Arkansas City met March 29 for a study session at City Hall to discuss citizen boards and committees.

Public Information Officer and Special Projects Coordinator Andrew Lawson led the discussion. Part of his responsibilities include maintaining records for these boards.

The city has more than 15 such boards and committees, other than the city commission, and all of them are filled by citizens who volunteer their time and efforts to the community.

Citizens are appointed to their seats by the commissioners.

“We are extremely fortunate to have as many interested citizens as we do,” Lawson said.

“Without the 85 people who volunteer their time and talents, with no compensation, we could not govern the city as effectively or offer the range of programs and services they make possible.”

However, the city always is looking for more individuals who wish to volunteer.

SCKMC Board of Trustees

The South Central Kansas Medical Center Board of Trustees was one board the commission took extra time to talk about during the meeting.

Two board members’ terms have officially expired and they cannot be reappointed due to term limits.

Board chair Carol Hearne and Dr. Nick Rogers both are leaving after more than 15 years each of service to the hospital.

The commissioners will need to appoint two people to fill those seats and will begin to look at their options during the next meeting, on April 3.

“The ordinance says they will continue to serve until a suitable replacement is (appointed),” said Mayor Dan Jurkovich.

“Someone is going to have to tell them that,” Lawson joked. “I don’t want to be the one to break their hearts.”

“That is a huge amount of leadership, going back to the Memorial Hospital, that we’re losing,” he added.

Several people have shown interest in the board, but of those who have turned in applications, only retired Phillips 66 accountant John Farrar has been recommended for appointment by the hospital board.

In the past, trustees were promoted after they had served on subcommittees for several years, a practice that Lawson said Hearne told him has fallen by the wayside since the building of SCKMC.

Important decision

The choice of new trustees weighs heavily as SCKMC continues to struggle with its finances, one year before a half-cent sales tax will expire.

“Something needs to be done. Instead of going forward (financially), they keep going back,” said Commissioner Duane Oestmann.

“I don’t think the board has followed the recommendations of the Quorum report,” he said, referring to a $175,000 study the Public Building Commission, which includes the five city commissioners, had to enlist in late 2016 after the hospital’s bond conditions were violated.

“Could we have an executive session at the end of the meeting?” asked Commissioner Kanyon Gingher.

When City Attorney Tamara Niles asked for clarification, City Manager Nick Hernandez said the executive session could be used to discuss potential board members.

“It’s not an employee,” Niles said. “We would have no basis for us to discuss anything in executive session.”

“So let’s just discuss it openly,” Jurkovich said.

The commissioners intend to start that discussion during the April 3 meeting, which also will be attended by SCKMC administrators Virgil Watson and Holly Harper as they give their monthly report.

Commissioner Jay Warren was absent March 29.