Mayor Charles Rorex would like to see the city ordinances changed to allow him to more easily pick a city counselor when the time comes later this spring. A few council members, however, believe the rules for selecting legal representation for the city are just fine as they are.
There were words of disagreement exchanged when the Farmington City Council held its monthly work session on Jan. 8 to discuss matters prior the Jan. 19 council meeting.
Rorex had asked City Administrator Greg Beavers to draft a bill which would change the language of a current ordinance. The new language would allow an attorney living outside the city limits, but with a practice inside the city limits, to be appointed as city counselor. The existing law reads that the city counselor – which is appointed by the mayor following the annual election – must live and practice law within the city limits.
“I have someone in mind, that’s no secret,” Rorex said following the session. “I just believe that if an attorney lives within, say the school district, and practices in the city that that should be enough.”
The mayor would not discuss any possible concerns or reason for not reappointing current city counselor Gary Wagner.
Friction came when Councilman Jim Bullis asked to discuss the proposed bill which would make the change in requirements for city counselor. He said it was his opinion that the current ordinance should be left in place.
“What message does it send when we have 16 attorneys living in the city and we say we have to go outside the city limits to find someone to represent the city?” Bullis asked. Visual reactions from other council members seemed to indicate Bullis was not alone in his thinking.
Rorex responded to Bullis’ inquiries by saying the councilman should attend an Administrative Committee meeting to be held prior to the regular monthly council meeting. That’s when Bullis questioned why, if the bill was still up for possible change, was it being forwarded to the full council for action as introduced.
A lengthy discussion revealed that the intent of forwarding bills from the work session to the full council for action in the first place was to show that the committee had met and discussed the bill and was now sending to the council for a vote at the meeting later in the month.
The problem came when a scheduling change put the Administrative Committee meetings after the monthly work session and before the council meeting. Apparently the committee had been meeting on that schedule for the past several months.
“So does this mean this bill will be voted on as it’s written here?” a council member asked.
“I want to know who’s idea this bill was anyway?” Councilman Larry Forsythe questioned Beavers.
“It was put on the agenda at the request of the mayor,” Beavers answered.
With the committee meeting time now a separate issue to be looked into, Bullis decided to further discuss the proposed bill changing the city counselor residency requirement. Again he said it was his feeling that the city counselor should be a resident of the city. “And when this comes up I’ll be voting ‘nay,'” he added.
“I’ll be voting nay, too,” Forsythe said.
“Well I just think that (the city counselor) being in practice in the city is the important thing,” Rorex said.
In the end the city administrator agreed to look into possibly changing the process for sending bills our of committee to the full council for action. In the meantime, Bullis said he would be attending the scheduled committee meeting prior to Jan. 19 to discuss the proposed ordinance change.
“I just can’t say anymore than that,” Rorex said following the meeting. “This is the first item that I’ve really (come out strong) on since I took over as mayor. It’s something I believe is right, and you have to pick your fights … and this one’s important to me.”
In other council action, it was announced that work is nearing completion on Franklin and Spruce streets. Light standards for Wallace Road have been installed, and the okay has been given by the state to complete the final stage of installing new street lights along Karsch Boulevard. The new lights will match the higher, brighter lights already in place along a portion of the state-maintained roadway.
As for people living along and traveling portions of Old Fredericktown Road, it looks like the surface will remain gravel for at least the next two months. It was announced that recent testing showed the road base contained entirely too much moisture to apply asphalt any time soon. The plan is to pave the newly-widened and leveled road surface in early spring.
The council will meet next during its regular monthly session on Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. in the basement of Long Memorial Hall.