City wants to address board term limits, missions
By DAWNE LEIKER
Hays city commissioners, as they evaluate the necessity of several city boards and committees, also have opened a conversation concerning term limits of city committee members.
Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV, who raised the issue of term limits at a previous city commission meeting, said at Thursday night's city commission work session his concerns stemmed from the fact some members of the Hays Area Planning Commission have served in their positions many years.
"The reason I brought this up is that the planning commission needs new membership, and we appreciate the service of all the people who have been on the planning commission and appreciate their experience and wisdom and seniority," Schwaller said. "But some of those folks have served a very long time.
"And to some degree, after reading the minutes from some of their meetings in the past, it's a very entrenched group."
Hickman said he saw another way to handle the issue of term limits.
"Personally, I think we don't necessarily have to mess around with term lengths that are already designated, but just limit it to consecutive terms for each commissioner," Hickman said.
During the discussion of committee member term limits, Commission Ron Mellick suggested the commission look at term limits for Hays city commissioners.
"All of us have been here a long time," Mellick said. "We need to have new blood.
"I'd like to have that put on the next work session, that we look at city commission term limits."
City Manager Toby Dougherty shared information regarding the city's various boards and committees with commissioners at Thursday's work session.
Some boards and committees, Dougherty said, are required by state statute. Others have been created by the commission through ordinance or by action.
Dougherty pointed out the merits of several of the committees, including the Airport Advisory Committee, Building Trades Board, CARE Council and Fort Hays Municipal Golf Course Advisory Board.
Other committees, such as the Hays Beautification Committee, Neighborhood Revitalization/Downtown Development Review Board and Sister Cities Advisory Board raised some questions from commissioners.
"The beautification (committee) really doesn't have a strong mission or purpose," Hickman said. "It's a great group, and actually it's not been very difficult to find members, but trying to define their purpose ... has been a challenge."
Schwaller questioned the value not only of the beautification committee but also of the neighborhood revitalization board.
"I have no problem eliminating the neighborhood revitalization/downtown review board," he said. "I think it never really served a purpose."
When considering the Sister Cities Advisory Board, Hickman suggested that board's strength is its connection to schools and Fort Hays State University. Schwaller agreed the organization likely was better used by the university.
"It is a people-to-people exchange," Schwaller said. "The fact that the city hasn't been involved is the fault of this body, not the Sister Cities."
Dougherty said in an email Friday morning members of Sister Cities committee likely will meet with commissioners in February. He said he will speak with the Hays Beautification Committee and will report back to commissioners at a future work session.
Disbanding of the neighborhood review board is slated for action at next week's city commission meeting, he said.