Knox City Council members voted to move forward with establishing an ordinance that would define the official duties of city council members when they met last week.
Up until now, the duties of a council member have been implied but unspecified. This proposed ordinance would establish expectations and responsibilities for council members, including things such as attendance and constituent representation.
At a meeting earlier this year, Mayor Estok asked council members to assess the roads in their districts and submit potential Community Crossings projects to him. Having one council member absent leaves an entire section of the city that wouldn’t be considered for those projects. That’s just one example of why attending meetings and providing district representation are integral to being a city council member.
The need for such an ordinance arose after the extended absence of Tim Manns, the City Councilman for District 4, was brought up during council items at the first meeting in February.
When Councilman Jeff Berg asked if there was any state code that dealt with absenteeism, Mayor Dennis Estok explained that since Councilman Manns was elected, there is currently no way to stop his pay or mandate that he comes. However, he did mention that there is a state code pertaining to the issue, (IC-36-4-6-6), but it basically leaves the responsibility up to the council.
He said members would have to establish an ordinance that would define official duties. Then if they felt it was necessary, they could take further action if the councilman continued to shirk responsibilities.
At their meeting last Tuesday, the matter was brought up again during citizen comments and Mayor Estok asked members if they want to look into having an ordinance made.
Councilman Don Kring mentioned that regardless of what happens in this situation, there should be some rules on the books that clearly state what a council member is expected to do. All the members in attendance voted to move forward with an ordinance that would more clearly define “official duties”.
There was a general consensus that the members would like to have Councilman Manns return, rather than having to take further actions such as expelling him or vacating his seat. However, members shared the belief that it is unfair to continue paying somebody who isn’t actively representing their district.
Mayor Estok said that they would most likely hire someone to help them construct this ordinance to ensure that members take all the necessary steps.