No action taken as Topeka governing body keeps trying to reach contract with a new city manager

Topeka governing body members weren’t saying publicly what happened after they once again met behind closed doors in executive session for 30 minutes late Tuesday while continuing to work to reach a contract with a new city manager.

 

The governing body, which consists of the nine city council members and Mayor Larry Wolgast, came out of the session just after 9 p.m., when Wolgast announced no further action would be taken and adjourned the meeting.

The governing body previously spent nearly 12½ hours behind closed doors in an executive session July 22 interviewing the finalists and discussing their qualifications, then discussed the potential hiring of a city manager in executive session for about three hours and 45 minutes on July 28, about 35 minutes Aug. 8 and about 60 minutes Friday.

The governing body is seeking to replace former city manager Jim Colson, who resigned last October to return home to Arizona. Doug Gerber, Topeka’s former deputy city manager, has since been serving as interim city manager.

The city revealed last month that the five finalists being considered to replace Colson are Gerber, who has been with the city since 2014; Jeffrey Dingman, deputy city administrator since 2011 for Fort Smith, Ark.; Jason Gage, Salina’s city manager since 2005; David Hales, city manager since 2008 for Bloomington, Ill.; and Brent Trout, city administrator since 2007 for Mason City, Iowa.

The governing body hasn’t publicly revealed any decisions it may have made regarding narrowing the list.

That body on Tuesday also voted 10-0 to approve a three-year labor contract running from Jan. 1, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2020, between the city and its more than 200 employees represented in collective bargaining by Local 6406 of AFT Kansas.

The contract includes cost-of-living pay increases of 1/2 percent in 2018, 1 percent in 2019 and 1 percent in 2020, with employees also receiving step increases if they’ve met expectations on their most recent annual performance appraisal.

In other business, the governing body:

  • Voted 10-0 to authorize the issuance of $17.975 million in combined utility revenue bonds to finance improvements it had previously approved.
  • Voted 10-0 to approve the city’s 2018 Consolidated Action Plan regarding the investment of about $5.9 million in public money designated for neighborhood improvements.
  • Voted 10-0 to vacate a segment of public alley right-of-way to allow for an expansion and improvements to the parking lot of Topeka Bible Church, 1101 S.W. Mulvane.
  • Voted 9-0, with Wolgast not having a vote, to appoint Francis Kent and reappoint Marilyn Lind and Marijo Mastroianni to the Topeka Americans with Disabilities Act Advisory Council; reappoint Jim Ogle and Andy Vogel to the board of the Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority; and appoint Bill Persinger to the Shawnee County Community Corrections Advisory Board.
  • Heard a quarterly financial report and a quarterly public works and utilities report.
  • Met behind closed doors in executive session for 50 minutes to receive legal advice about one matter and for 25 minutes to receive legal advice about another.
  • Heard Councilwoman Michelle De La Isla say she’s hearing residents here express concern about Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, Va., and stress that “Topeka is a city of love.”

Reporter Tim Hrenchir can be reached at (785) 295-1184 or @timhrenchir on Twitter.

 

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