City Commission discusses Riley County Law Board appointments, expansion of Manhattan City Hall

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Appointments to the Riley County Law Board were discussed during Tuesday’s City Commission meeting. Mayor Wynn Butler began the discussion explaining the state statute that said the law board should include two citizen-at-large members and two members from the governing body, one appointed by the county. The law board is to enforce the law and provide police protection to the community while adopting the annual budget for law enforcement.

It was determined legal to have all positions filled by members of the governing body, because they are citizens of Manhattan. A 2006 resolution, according to Butler, made it possible to only have present serving commissioners on the law board.

“I believe we should be living by the state statute,” John Matta, city commissioner, said.

Butler moved to repeal the resolution in order to remove any constraints the resolution places on future commissioners. He also moved to appoint Manhattan resident, Craig Beardsley, as a citizen-at-large member of the law board after receiving public pressure to appoint a Manhattan resident.

“I don’t think we could find someone more qualified,” Butler said.

The city commissioners have concerns over the qualifications of a citizen-at-large member.

“(The law board member) has to have in the back of (his or her) mind that this budget has to be compensable in August,” Karen McCulloh, city commissioner, said.

McCulloh said that the citizen-at-large member could be qualified for the position but still lack the experience to handle the large budget the board is responsible for. Many of the other commissioners expressed similar concerns. McCulloh said that the law board is becoming too political because the mayor could appoint the members.

“That is political and that’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Butler said.

Butler moved to appoint Beardsley, but McCulloh said that she would not appoint someone at the moment. She said she did not receive any information about the nominee. Rich Jankovich, city commissioner, then moved to table the issue until Dec. 3. In response, Butler said by moving the discussion to a later date, the city commissioners are saying that they do not want a citizen-at-large member on the law board. This was rebutted by Usha Reddi, city commissioner. The vote to table the discussion was four to one, ruling to move the discussion.

Also discussed at the meeting was the addition of 10 way-finding signs in the Manhattan Medical Center. No action was taken. Proposed signage regulations in Manhattan were reviewed. The new regulations are to make signs more content neutral, make the sign regulations more users friendly and up-to-date. The regulations will limit the time a temporary sign can be on display as well as limit sizes and digital sign usage.

Josh Adrian, of Manhattan, expressed concerns over the time period available for signs that he uses to advertise open leases on his rental properties.

“The signs are essential to business,” Adrian said.

Adrian asked that the commissioners remove the time limit on the signs. No action was taken and the next discussion is scheduled for a later date.

The expansion of Manhattan City Hall for the Parks and Recreation offices were reviewed. Though Butler and several of the city commissioners agreed that the expansion plans were to the best they could be, Matta would not approve the first reading to the proposal.

“There was another option the Parks and Recreation recommended,” Matta said.

Reddi said the plans served the public’s interests, though the commissioners may not have agreed on the plans. The first reading of the discussion was approved 4-1.

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