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Wichita consent agenda reform proposed

The Wichita city council will consider reforms to the consent agenda.

Next week the Wichita City Council will consider changes to the form of city council meetings, specifically the consent agenda. 1

A consent agenda is a group of items — perhaps as many as two dozen or so — that are voted on in bulk with a single vote. If the consent agenda is passed, each individual item on the consent agenda is also considered as passed. An item on a consent agenda will be discussed only if a council member requests the item to be “pulled.” If that is done, the item will be discussed. Then it might be withdrawn, delayed to a future meeting, voted on by itself, or folded back into the consent agenda with the other items. Generally, consent agenda items are considered by the city to be routine and non-controversial, but that is not always the case.

The city proposes two main changes. First, a draft, or proposed consent agenda will be presented to the mayor and vice mayor one week before a council meeting, with the finalization on Friday. City documents explain:

A draft consent agenda will be presented to the mayor and vice mayor one week before the scheduled city council meeting. The mayor and vice mayor will make a preliminary designation of the items to be included on the consent agenda. The consent agenda will be considered only a draft until it is endorsed by the city council during its regular Friday agenda review meeting.

Second, there is a list of items considered appropriate for inclusion on the consent agenda, as presented below.

In the past, the city has placed major items on the consent agenda, such as authorizing a $2 million contract with the city’s convention and visitors’ bureau. 2

Notably, this summer the city placed a long-term lease with a proposed airport hotel on the consent agenda. Before the meeting, it was found the contract had many errors. 3 At that time, Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell expressed frustration with items such as this being placed on the consent agenda and said he would propose changes. 4

Items appropriate for consent agenda

From the proposed ordinance:

In order to provide City staff with additional guidance, the following items are considered appropriate for the consent agenda:

  1. Applications for licenses
  2. Community event requests
  3. Street closures
  4. Preliminary construction estimates
  5. Petitions for public improvements
  6. Design services agreements and supplements to design services agreements
  7. Sale of remnant parcels and property previously designated as surplus
  8. Purchase of property for right-of-way
  9. Second reading ordinances
  10. Property acquisitions
  11. Minutes of advisory boards and commissions
  12. One year agreements, agreement amendments or agreement extensions with a value of $100,000 or less
  13. Grant applications and awards if the local match is less than $100,000
  14. Change orders
  15. Settlement agreements
  16. Establishing public hearing dates for the repair and removal of dangerous structures
  17. Authorizing note and bond sales
  18. Zoning applications that have no protest and are recommended for approval by the DAB and MAPC
  19. Nuisance assessments


Notes

  1. Wichita City Council agenda packet for November 19, 2019, item V-2.
  2. See, for example, For Wichita, another agenda surprise at https://wichitaliberty.org/wichita-government/wichita-another-agenda-surprise/, Naftzger Park costs up, yet again at https://wichitaliberty.org/wichita-government/naftzger-park-costs-up-yet-again/, In Wichita, spending semi-secret at https://wichitaliberty.org/wichita-government/wichita-spending-semi-secret/, A consultant to help Wichita’s confidence factor at https://wichitaliberty.org/wichita-government/consultant-help-wichita-confidence-factor/, For Wichita City Council, discussion is not wanted at https://wichitaliberty.org/wichita-government/for-wichita-city-council-discussion-is-not-wanted/, In Wichita, a gentle clawback at https://wichitaliberty.org/wichita-government/in-wichita-a-gentle-clawback/, Wichita, again, fails at government transparency at https://wichitaliberty.org/wichita-government/wichita-fails-government-transparency/, and Wichita open records issue buried at https://wichitaliberty.org/open-records/wichita-open-records-issue-buried/.
  3. Lefler, Dion. What’s up with the new airport hotel? Wichita scrambles to correct errors before vote. Wichita Eagle, June 24, 2019. Available at https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article231911503.html.
  4. Lefler, Dion. Longwell proposes changes in city process after airport hotel blunder. Wichita Eagle, June 28, 2019. Available at https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article232088887.html.
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