Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance
Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Monday night:
• Held two executive sessions totaling 50 minutes to discuss the city manager’s contract. The sessions included the council and, on and off, City Administrator Kendal Francis, Assistant City Administrator Logan Burns, City Attorney Allen Glendenning and Human Resources Director Randy Keesling.
• Held a discussion on the city’s fee schedule.
Last year, the council approved the development of a Master Fee Schedule, which lists all fees charged by the city, City Administrator Kendal Francis said. This schedule is to be reviewed and updated annually.
The council was presented with the schedule containing the proposed changes. The most significant changes are to the permit and Event Center fees.
Staff provided the rationale for the changes.
• Held a work session to discuss the Expo I and II buildings at the Great Bend Expo Complex, the ownership of which is murky and involves the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce. Chamber representatives and a member of the Barton County Fair Board were present.
• Approved the purchase of new extrication equipment for the Great Bend Fire Department at a cost of $36,764.50. The purchase was made necessary due to the current device’s age and deterioration.
• Heard a report from City Administrator Kendal Francis.
• Heard a report from Great Bend Economic Development Inc. President Sara Arnberger. She focused on the Ignite Rural Business, a competition for new entrepreneurs.
• Approved abatements for trash and refuse violations at: 1622 Adams St., Evann Stueder; 2810 20th St., Kelly and Linda Cannon; 1400 12th St., Carolyn Farris; 215 Hubbard St., Jesus and Maria Olave; 1430 8Th St., Maribel Leyva; 1121 Morphy St., Manuel Acosta; 2535 21st St., Evan Keenan; and 2525 16th St., Joseph Peschka Jr.
• Approved abatements for motor vehicle violations at: 1019 Frey St., Mario Elizalde and Maria Raquel Bustamante; 910 Main St., Neil and Elaine Vonfeldt; 404 Plum St., Juan Carlos Zamarripa; 2529 9th St., WHB Inc.; and 815 Morton St., Moses Properties LLC.
Great Bend City Administrator Kendal Francis officially announced his resignation before the City Council Monday night. Reading from a prepared statement, an emotional Francis praised the city staff and governing body, and urged them to rely on this expertise as the search for his replacement gets underway.
“It’s not been easy on anybody” Mayor Cody Schmidt said.
“We have quite a process in front of us,” Schmidt said. “But I have big hopes big dreams and a lot of faith in this group up here with me. We will do everything in our power to make sure the city continues to move in the right direction.”
He said over the next 35 days, he would be will be in every meeting possible. ”We will do what is right for this city to replace Kendal. It is my job as the mayor of this community to find the next city administrator and I’m hoping to find an even better Kendal.”
He said when the council meets next on Dec. 19, there will have an update on the steps being taken to start the search, he said.
Francis is leaving to take the city manager’s job at Hutchinson. Final approval of his contract was on the Hutchinson City Council’s agenda Tuesday night.
In an item added to the agenda Monday night, the council held two executive sessions totaling 50 minutes to discuss the city administrator’s contract. The sessions included the council and, on and off, City Administrator Kendal Francis, Assistant City Administrator Logan Burns, City Attorney Allen Glendenning and Human Resources Director Randy Keesling.
An official goodbye
“It’s been my distinct pleasure to represent you, our team, and this community for the past four years,” Francis said, his voice quivering. “During that period, we have helped heal a divided community successfully navigated through a pandemic provided for over $33 million in capital improvements to facilities and infrastructure all while maintaining strong fiscal health and thus positioning this city for a bright future.”
Therefore, “it is with a heavy heart that I tendered my resignation as Great Bend city administrator effective Friday, Jan. 6 2023,” he said. During the next 35 days, he will work with the council and the Executive Leadership Team to plan for smooth transition of projects, initiatives and responsibilities in advance his departure and resignation.
“In recognition of the impact this decision will have on the organization, I strongly encourage you to rely on the recommendations of these talented leaders to guide you in the days ahead,” Francis said. “Their expertise and selfless commitment to this organization and to the good of this community are the foundations on which our successes go. I thank you for the privilege of serving this great city as city administrator. I wish you, our team and this wonderful community the very best success moving forward.”
“I just want to personally thank you Kendal for the time I’ve had with you,” Schmidt said. “We’ve worked really well together And I wish you nothing but the best in your in your next journey.”
Francis took the Great Bend job in July 2018. He previously served as city manager in Coffeyville and city administrator in Lakin. He took over for Interim City Administrator George Kolb.
In September 2017, Kolb of Wichita was named interim city administrator. Until Kolb was appointed by the council, now-retired City Attorney Bob Suelter had been acting as the short-term interim administrator.
Then, in February 2018, the council approved contracting with headhunters Slavin Management Consultants to handle the search. The city paid the Atlanta, Ga.-based firm $15,505 plus expenses including consultant travel, office costs and advertising with those additional costs not to exceed $7,752.
In May 2018, the City Council met in executive sessions to narrow the field of applicants to three. There were closed-door interviews with the three, including Francis, which were followed by meet-and-greets with local business leaders and a public reception.
The appointment of Kolb was made necessary by the Aug. 16, 2017, retirement of City Administrator Howard Partington who had been with the city for 36 years. Partington cited stress caused by the controversy between now resigned Police Chief Clifton Couch and the city as the reason for his departure.