From reinstating suspended Police Chief Clifton Couch to filling a council vacancy and other city openings, several matters related to the recent shake-up at City Hall will be on the Great Bend City Council’s agenda when it meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night at the Great Bend Events Center.
The meeting was moved from Monday to Tuesday due to Labor Day; it was moved to the Events Center, 3111 10th St., due to an anticipated large crowd. Recent council meetings have been at the center and have seen large audiences of residents following the controversy ensnaring the city and the police chief.
• First, the council will elect president. This is due to the Aug. 16 resignation of Ward 2 Councilman Wayne Henneke, who served as president.
• Second, there will be a discussion on the reinstatement of Couch at the request of Councilman Dana Dawson.
On July 24, the Great Bend City Council held a special meeting with the sole agenda item being an executive session to discuss non-elected personnel matters involving Couch and now retired City Administrator Howard Partington.
Following the 45-minute closed-door session, the council approved suspending Couch with pay with the potential for termination. This was reportedly based on comments he made during the June 29 special meeting where Couch alleged unethical conduct by Partington and Mayor Mike Allison.
Partington had maintained Couch had been insubordinate.
The council on June 29 called for a management and compensation study of the Police Department.
Couch has appealed his suspension. A hearing before the council is expected the week of Sept. 11. However, if Couch is reinstated, the hearing will be moot.
• Next, Dawson also asked for an agreed-upon-procedures audit from a certified public accounting firm. Dawson would like a discussion on hiring a CPA to complete an agreed-upon procedure of city departments.
However, the council must first determine just what they want audited before requests for proposals can be sought, city officials said,
Dawson first brought up the idea of a forensic audit of the city at the heated Aug. 7 meeting. There was a large and vocal crowd that was frustrated with what it perceived as a lack of action by the council that night.
• Then, council members will discuss 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 Wednesday, Sept. 13. All applications already turned in will be accepted.
The mayor will form a committee consisting of himself and two council members to interview qualified candidates. 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. Applications have been received.
Mayor Allison will appoint a committee to interview applicants and make a recommendation.
• On Aug. 11, Fire Chief Mike Napolitano announced his plans to retire as of that Friday. The mayor will also appoint a committee to interview candidates for this job.