Comments by McLouth councilman raises questions
Councilman Harlan Woodring raised concerns about purchases by City Administrator Carl Chalfant recently for a street and sidewalk project on Cynthia Street.
The city paid Daniels Excavating $700 for two truckloads of black dirt to finish off the project.
Woodring first questioned Chalfant about the number of people called or if bids were solicited.
Chalfant said he called three or four trucking companies but could not recall on the spot who else was called besides Daniels Excavating. Woodring also took issue with Chalfant’s ability to spend up to $1,000 each day without council approval.
“We really need to obtain bids when we’re going to spend the city’s money,” Woodring said. “I just feel like there needs to be some sort of limit on the city administrator.”
Woodring implied that the council would discuss the issue later in closed session.
Councilman Jim Moore and Mayor Keith Meador took exception to Woodring’s suggestion. Meador said his demands would amount to micro-managing Chalfant.
“If we do that then we are tying his hands,” Meador said. “What more assurance do we need than the man’s word?”
At that point Woodring made a cryptic statement about approvals that have come out of City Hall.
“We had a person, without breaking attorney client privilege, who was doing work for the city and obtained benefits from the city and apparently everybody thought it was okay over there in the office until the city council and the city attorney found out about it,” he said in a raised and angry tone. “If you want the specifics I can tell you.”
Woodring then said he wasn’t making it a personal issue and was simply questioning one item on the bills.
“I don’t want to turn this into an all night session,” he said
Woodring did bring up Ralph Bailey’s name as a person who could have also supplied dirt and questioned the price.
Last summer the council awarded Bailey a bid to replace a water line on Cynthia Street. A week later Daniels Excavating threatened to sue the city because they were the lowest bidder. The council rescinded the bid award and then awarded the contract to Daniels Excavating.
Woodring also said an issue with bidding pertaining to a maintenance building project the city is moving forward with would also be discussed in closed session. He said there would be some problems.
City Attorney Carol Bonebrake requested closed sessions for attorney client privilege and possible litigation.
Woodring also expressed concerns about Councilman Jim Moore working on the project for free.
In other actions:
• The council adopted an emergency mitigation plan that was developed by the county and the city.
• The fire department sent a revised fire house agreement to the council that was approved. The department is expected to approve the agreement at their meeting next month.
• The council heard concerns about a new fireworks ordinance that was enacted last month. The McLouth Kiwanis Club, who sells fireworks, said it would eliminate most fireworks sold under the language.
The city will publish a new ordinance that more narrowly defines the types of fireworks that are being banned.
The firework in question is called a sky lantern. Much like a hot air balloon the device has an open flame and carries for a great distance.
• The city approved a mission statement authored by Councilman George Bowen. It reads “It is our duty as the governing body of the city of McLouth to obey the laws of the state of Kansas. We avoid any and all conflicts of interest. We operate with the utmost cost efficiency within our proposed yearly budget. We support open rapport with our constituents and we strive to improve our community.”
• A second suspect in the downtown graffiti case was interviewed and a confession was extracted. Both suspects have been turned over to the county prosecutor’s office. Both are juveniles and do not live in McLouth.
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