SIKESTON - Following the second of two public hearings, city council members selected Council Option 4 in a 4-1 vote to establish Sikeston's wards.
Two members of the public offered their opinions on the designation of wards during what City Manager Doug Friend described as "the last opportunity based on our schedule for public comment" at Monday's regular city council meeting.
"One, two and four would be satisfactory," said Alan Marc Whitaker.
Major Lucious said he was in favor of Option 3, which would have established Ward 4 with a larger population than the other three wards, as there is "little or no anticipated growth" in that area.
Council members explained that a document clarifying how the population balance should be determined surfaced after Option 3 had made the final cut and that the option now appears not to be not in compliance with the maximum 10-percent deviation rule. Wards must also be determined by the most recent census figures and can not be adjusted in anticipation of growth.
Councilman Mike Marshall said it will be "interesting to see in 10 years what the population growth will be in the four wards." Council members also noted that a subdivision approval in Ward 4 was on the agenda for consideration later in the meeting.
City staff reported receiving 36 written comments. Five said they prefer Option 1; one resident preferred Option 2; two were in favor of Option 4; 16 said they would like either Option 1 or 4; one preferred Option 1 or 2; and one liked all the offered choices except for Option 3 "since it disproportionately represents two wards." Nine were in favor of a modified Option 2 and one offered comment without stating a preference.
The vote against Option 4 from Sue Rogers was due to "comments from voters who were not pleased with any of the options," she explained following the meeting. "I represent the voters, not my own opinion."
Rogers said her personal preference didn't make the final cut, but of the four final options, she would have preferred Option One which she believes to have been the simplest of the four.
Following the vote, Friend began an update on the transition to the Charter form of government by noting that council members "just jumped over a big hurdle getting the wards established." The deadline for establishing wards was September.
He then briefed the council on an initial implementation schedule with target dates for required actions and a review of action taken so far.
Friend said city staff complied with Charter-mandated budget procedures this year in advance of the required effective date of April 2003.
The city will begin reading bills twice at least one week apart effective July 29 although it is not required to until April 2003.
The changes are being implemented early to both honor "the spirit of the Charter" as well as to keep the city from getting into trouble through a technical error, Friend said.
City staff will provide council members with monthly updates, he added, and advised the council he will continue to work with area media so "as you make these changes, you can get the word out."
Following the meeting, commenting on the additional roll calls taken before considering each item of business, Mayor Phil Boyer said some city council procedures were changed as directed by the Charter, "but a lot of it has been brought on by (recent) litigation as well."
Charles Leible, city counselor, confirmed city officials "thought it best" to amend procedures for the time being in light of the pending lawsuit.