Discussion grew heated at Marion city council Monday when payment of a lawyer working with the planning commission and board of zoning appeals — who has not billed the city for his time — was discussed.
Newton attorney Brad Jantz has worked with the commission for several months. Mayor David Mayfield wanted to discontinue Jantz’s services because no bills have been sent to the city.
Darvin Markley, a member of both the board of zoning appeals and the planning commission, spoke up to say the commission needs Jantz’s services, and that the amount owed to Jantz is less than $2,500.
Councilman Ruth Herbel said she would like to keep Jantz.
Mayfield said the city doesn’t know what it owes Jantz.
“I told you today how much we owe him,” Markley said.
“We’re having a discussion with the council!” Mayfield said in a raised voice. “You’ll have the chance to have your say during public comment.”
“After the fact!” Markley contended. “That’s how the commission gets screwed!”
Markley said Jantz’s bill is not more than $2,500, and Jantz bills after the work is done.
“I think Mr. Jantz needs to submit a bill,” Mayfield said. “At this point I’m opposed to keeping him until we know what we owe him.”
Commission vice-chairman Terry Jones said planning and zoning regulations are more complicated than they look. Not only do the regulations need to be revised, but the commission must work with existing regulations until revisions are made because some of the book is ambiguous.
“He needs to send us an hourly documentation of what he did and what we owe him,” Mayfield said.
Mayfield said money owed to Jantz is unencumbered.
Mayfield said the planning board meets Tuesday and should ask Jantz to submit his bills.
Mayfield moved to remove funding for the planning commission and zoning appeals board until Jantz submits a bill.
“That authority, under state statute, is not given to the council,” Markley said.
Markley said he’d consulted Wichita attorney Pat Hughes, an expert on zoning, and Hughes confirmed the authority to hire a consultant is granted to the planning and zoning board, not the governing body.
Despite Markley’s argument, the council voted 4-1 to remove funding, with Herbel opposed.
“That’s a pretty lame excuse that he hasn’t billed yet,” Markley said of the decision. “They’re using this for an excuse to get rid of him.”
Markley also disliked Mayfield’s attitude about Markley trying to speak to the council.
“Everybody else can come in there and make comments, but even as a board member, we are not allowed to make comments,” he said.
Markley also took issue with the way the issue was listed on the council agenda.
“It was listed on the agenda as ‘planning and zoning discussion, David Mayfield,’ ” he said.
Markley said he was concerned that issues the commission and Jantz were working on are now up in the air. That means money and time was wasted, he said.
Markley said another sore spot for the commission is city employees overturning decisions made by the commission.
“We have city employees telling them they don’t have to do what we said,” Markley said.