In addition to the reinstatement of Police Chief Clifton Couch, the Great Bend City Council Tuesday night took action on several matters pertaining to the fall out from the recent controversies surrounding the City Administration and City Council. These included:
• Electing Councilman Brock McPherson as the president of the council. The need for this was due to the Aug. 16 resignation of Ward 2 Councilman Wayne Henneke who served as president.
• Next, Councilman Dana Dawson also asked for an agreed-upon-procedures audit from a certified public accounting firm. This was approved unanimously and popular with the crowd packed into the Great Bend Events Center.
Dawson first brought up the idea of a forensic audit of the city at the heated Aug. 7 meeting. That night there was a large and vocal crowd was frustrated with what it perceived as a lack of action by the council that night.
However, Dawson said Tuesday night that would have been too costly. So, he was advised that this agreed-upon-procedures audit would be a better route, at it is less expensive and more targeted.
He made the motion and Councilman Mike Boys seconded it.
This will look back 10 years in the administrator’s office, 10 years for all city loans, five years for the Police and Street departments for the past five years, and calls for new surveys to be sent to all department heads.
Dawson said this was needed to provide a “clean slate” for a new administrator and incoming council. Plus, it will help appease a restless public.
This is not a witch hunt, he said. It will lead wherever it leads.
Dawson said he was told by auditors that under these circumstances, they could speak more freely with city officials about what the find.
It was estimated that this audit will cost the city at least $6,000 per day
“It’s well worth it,” someone in the audience yelled.
• Then, council members discussed applications for the vacant Ward 2 council seat. The council has 60 days from the day Henneke resigned Aug. 16 to fill the spot.
The city will accept applications until noon Friday. All applications already turned in will be accepted.
Mayor Mike Allison named council members Allene Owen and Cory Zimmerman along with himself to a committee to interview qualified candidates by next week. They will recommend an appointment to the council and mayor for approval.
• Even though City Attorney Bob Suelter has been acting as the short-term interim city administrator, the Mayor Tuesday will appoint a committee to interview interim city administrator applicants. Two applications have been received.
Mayor Allison appointed Suelter, City Clerk Shawna Schafer, and council members Joel Jackson and Mike Boys to join him on a committee to interview applicants by next week and make a recommendation.
• On Aug. 11, Fire Chief Mike Napolitano announced his plans to retire effective immediately or at the end of August following vacation. The mayor named Suelter, Owen, McPherson and retired Human Resource Director Terry Hoff to a committee along with him to interview candidates for this job.
There have been three applicants, all from within the Great Bend Fire Department.
• Great Bend resident Bryan Harris requested via a letter to the city to make presentation before the council regarding the suspension of Chief Couch. In his letter, he wrote: “I would appreciate an opportunity to address the Great Bend City Council, regarding concerns I have on the direction, past actions, i.e. suspension of Chief Couch, has taken us. I am generally concerned how the future of Great Bend will be effected. I truly believe we have dedicated city employees working for the good of our city. I represent no group, just a concerned citizen wanting to express my opinion on the sad state of affairs.”
He praised first responders and outlined a plan to make city government more transparent and accountable to the public.
But, he said, the public also has to step up, get involved and vote.