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Hoisington considers election options and going paperless
Hoisington's City Council met Monday night. - photo by VERONICA COONS, Great Bend Tribune

The Hoisington City Council met Monday night to discuss changes to the city’s charter for the purpose of elections and to consider purchasing iPads from USD 431 in the ongoing effort to move to paperless meetings,

The Hoisington City Council met Monday night to discuss changes to the city’s charter for the purpose of elections and to consider purchasing iPads from USD 431 in the ongoing effort to move to paperless meetings,
With the statewide switch from spring to fall only elections, council members determined by consensus Hoisington will continue to not hold primaries, primarily because they are considered expensive and have poor turnout.  One must-do change to the charter having to do with term of service for existing members and the next group that will be elected in the final spring election this coming April is the clarification that class of elected officials will serve until January 2019, and the outgoing class will serve until January 2018.  
The council also considered a switch from representation by ward or at-large, with all agreeing that the ward system would provide more evenly dispersed, fairer representation of the entire city.  However, there were advantages seen for moving to a combination ward and at-large makeup of the council.  
Councilman Brian Wilborn suggested a half ward, half at-large makeup, which would open up opportunities for those who want to serve, in light of the fact most incumbents have tended to run for more than one term.  But City Manager Jonathan Mitchell pointed out that an even split would create other problems, like a majority at-large ballot in some years that could leave the council unbalanced if several form one part of town chose to run at the same time.  His solution, to shrink the council to six members, with four ward and two at-large representatives, plus the mayor.  While many thought the idea had merit, it wasn’t until later in the meeting that council member Jim Sekavec voiced his opinion that he is adamantly opposed to the council size changing, but that he would consider some positions besides the mayor becoming at-large.  
Term lengths, however, were one point the council agreed on wholeheartedly.  Two year terms were preferred, despite Mitchell’s suggestion that longer terms provide the city with more experienced officials.  Members felt if terms were made longer than two years, there would be less interest for running.  
Mitchell promised to bring questions to City Attorney Larry Kleeman and report back at a future meeting.   

Paper or plastic
Since USD 431 has determined to adopt Chromebooks as the preferred technology device for the middle and high school, it is making the purchase of iPads available to the city for the price of $100 each, which prompted the council to take up the discussion of moving to paperless packets for meetings once more.  
Sekavec said after checking with a representative of the City of Wichita and learning that council continues to operate with paper packets, he was more than ever in favor of not making the move to iPads. Brian Wilborn, however, had the opposite opinion.
“For the purpose of organization, time and savings, we absolutely have to do this,” he said.  Mitchell clarified that on the city’s end, the iPads would not cut down on time spent preparing the packet, because instead of printing off the sheets, they would need to be uploaded to the internet and emails sent out.  However, there would be minimal savings on delivering packets to council members and on the cost of making copies.  Most important, however, would be the time saved in council people receiving their packets.  He pointed out that this month, he did not receive his packet until shortly before the meeting, cutting into the time he hoped to spend researching the topics to be discussed.
Finally, council member Karen Van Buren asked the group to take a straw poll, and determined the majority of the council was in favor of authorizing Mitchell to purchase 12 of the units, for a maximum of $1,200, provided they are available.  Already since announcing the district would sell the units giving teachers and staff priority in the purchase, 80 of the 100 tablets have already been spoken for.  The city is number 32 in consideration, so there is still a possibility the city may not be able to but the units.   

City manager update
 Mitchell provided an update on city projects, including the upcoming Chamber banquet scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 16, a staffing update and the status of a few grant applications.
He announced that Angel Gonzales was hired to become the city’s new part-time janitor. He was positively impacted by one aspect of her employment history, he said, saying she had worked at her current job for 19 years.  
At 6 p.m. on Jan. 11, just prior to the next city council meeting,  demonstrator ambulances will be on hand for council members to look over.  Available through AE, Osage and Lifeline, it is hoped council members will be educated on the choices to be made when a new ambulance is purchased for the city.  
Other updates included:
A report that a critical blood-pressure monitor will be replaced free of charge to the city following a series of conversations with the supplier was relayed.
Approved a request by Mitchell to extend invitations for department heads to attend the upcoming Chamber of Commerce banquet.
Informed the council that the city will not be going after federal grants for fire fighting equipment this year, as it focuses on achieving 100 percent Firefighter 1 certification for all volunteer firefighters.  He was informed that without the certification last year, the city was not considered for any applied for grants, and that the same would occur until full certification is achieved.  
The council will meet next on Jan. 11, 2016 at 7 p.m.  City offices will be closed Friday, Jan. 1, 2016, in observance of New Year’s Day.