During the public comment session of the Peabody City Council meeting Monday night, Peabody businessman Mark Whitney read a letter to the council expressing his hope that with the resignation of Shane Marler as city administrator and Main Street director, the city would eliminate the Main Street program and the position of city administrator.
Whitney said he thought decisions Peabody City Council members made in the past few years “have resulted in financial instability and a mistrust ingrained into the citizens you represent.”
Whitney asked that his letter be entered into the public record of the meeting.
The council held no discussion nor took any action following Whitney’s presentation.
However, later in the meeting the council went into executive session for 10 minutes to discuss personnel. Council members, Mayor Larry Larsen, Marler, and former city administrator Mac Manning were included in the session.
On return to open meeting, the council unanimously approved a motion by Tom Schmidt to hire Manning as interim city administrator at $21 per hour for a minimum of two days a week on site and pay him a $350 a month expense stipend.
Marler will continue at the helm of Peabody Main Street and Peabody Economic Development, serving as a volunteer rather than a paid employee.
“Having operated with a city administrator in place for many years, I don’t see us going back to doing things the way we once did,” Schmidt said. “We need someone who will fill out the paperwork needed by the county and the state, someone who knows the requirements of the job. If we are to continue to pursue economic development for Peabody, we also need someone who knows the ropes in that capacity.
“With this plan there will be a savings from the difference between a full-time and a part-time salary,” he added. “But we still get the benefit of someone who knows our community and knows his job.”
At the end of the meeting Larsen presented Marler with a plaque of appreciation from the city and the council for his five years of service to the community.
In other business:
- Council members reviewed a list of proposed increases to municipal court costs, fees, and services. Eight services were defined and the costs associated with seven of them were increased. A trial decision appeal fee of $650 remained the same. The increases passed 4-1, with council member Pam Lamborn opposed.
- The council approved adoption of the ordinance to amend the Uniform Public Offense Code. However, members agreed to table adoption of the ordinance to amend the Standard Traffic Ordinance until the next meeting to accommodate a request for clarification of a previously amended local ordinance regarding parking on Division St. between Plum and Locust Sts.
- A request for payment of one-half the cost for assistant fire-chief Kelly Cook to attend an annual Kansas Fire Chiefs Conference in Hutchinson Oct. 24 to 27 was tabled for more information.
- The council agreed to enter into a year-long contract with Marler’s Whitecotton Webservice for maintenance, service, and upgrades to the city’s website at a cost of $900 per year.
- Public works director Darren Pickens told the council that the sewer replacement project between the 200 block of Sycamore and Maple Sts. was complete. Recent rains and flooding kept the project from proceeding as quickly as it should have.
- Pickens told the council that the rear window of the city backhoe was broken out during an attempt to move a tree off a city street during a recent storm. Replacement cost will be $1,800.
- Mosquito spraying has been increased and will continue on an accelerated schedule for a few more weeks. Pickens has ordered additional chemicals to get through the heavy infestation caused by the recent wet weather.
- Pickens and the council discussed the possibility of spraying for weeds growing in the gutters and apron areas on many streets in Peabody. Pickens said he didn’t think his department had the manpower or the budget to begin a project like that in the middle of the year. After discussion, the council agreed to revisit the subject when budget planning begins in 2014.
- The council entered an executive session for 10 minutes to discuss trade secrets. Included in the meeting were council members, Larsen, Marler, and Manning. No action was taken on return to open meeting.
- The council entered an executive session for 15 minutes to discuss personnel. Included in the meeting were council members, Larsen, Marler, Manning, and Bruce Burke. No action was taken on return to open meeting.
The next council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 9 in the city building.