Council punts on adding second monthly meeting

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Pawhuska City Council on Jan. 12 decided not to add a second meeting to its monthly schedule, at least for now.

The City Council has recently held as many as two or three meetings per month, but only one of those each month has been mandated as an element of its schedule.

At-Large Councilor Steve Tolson has argued in favor of adding a second monthly meeting as an element of the basic schedule, and he advocated for that change again last week. His peers were not convinced, and the council agreed not to formally vote up or down on the idea. Mayor Roger Taylor suggested Tolson might attempt to persuade him on the issue.

“Personally, I don’t know that we have that much to do,” Taylor said.

Ward 3 Councilor Mark Buchanan questioned how much additional work the City Council would get done if it had a second regularly scheduled meeting.

Tolson indicated he thinks a second regularly scheduled meeting would help to ensure the public would be better aware when the council would be meeting. He also said he thinks the council has infrastructure improvements and related financial questions to discuss, and that the council needs to engage in planning.

Tolson recalled that the council used to have a second regular meeting some years ago.

Buchanan said the late Robert Wilson, who was city attorney, had observed the council didn’t have enough business for two regular meetings.

Taylor indicated he might be willing to revisit the question in four to five months.

Later in the council’s Jan. 12 meeting, Tolson asked for a special meeting later in the month and his colleagues agreed to meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, at the Pawhuska Community Center. Tolson said he wanted at least part of that meeting to be an executive session, in which the council would set up a process for evaluating Interim City Manager Tonya Bright and communicating the council’s expectations to her.

Tolson also said he thinks the council needs to engage in “vision planning,” and that the council needs to talk about the Chamber of Commerce’s contract with city government for economic development services, and about whether or not to place on the ballot a proposed municipal lodging tax.

“We have got some good things going, but we have to be ready to make things happen,” Tolson said.

The possibility of putting a municipal lodging tax to a vote has been discussed at least twice in recent months, with Tolson advocating for discussion and a decision. The idea has sparked resistance from bed-and-bath operators. Bed-and-bath establishments are a growing line of business in Pawhuska and questions have been raised about whether a municipal lodging tax would raise the overall level of taxation on such establishments to a potentially harmful level.