By JESSICA CRAWFORD • Daily Leader
Following an audit from Hay, Rice & Associates, the City of Liberal “appears to be in very good financial condition,” CPA Dustin Ormiston reported during Tuesday evening’s city commission meeting. According to commissioner Larry Koochel, city staff should be commended for their fiscal responsibility.
“We had another good year,” Ormiston said. “It was very enjoyable working with (city) staff, they are always very willing to give us anything we need, any problems we do encounter, they are very proactive about trying to address those.
“Like I said, the city appears to be in very good financial condition,” he continued. “We really didn’t run into any problems, everything was good.”
Commissioner Larry Koochel thanked Ormiston and Steve Rice for their efforts and praised city staff for continuing to be wise with their spending.
“I think this is mostly due to city staff,” Koochel said. “City staff has really been on top of expenditures and not spending money unnecessarily.
“I am just proud of the direction the city is going and I think your report just proves that things are being done right,” he added. “It is a good report.”
The commission voted to enter into a contract once again with Hay, Rice and Associates for the 2009 audit. The motion passed with four commissioners in approval. Commissioner Bob Carlile was absent.
Commissioners reluctantly approved a motion allowing the USDA to perform a 13-month aviation study at the airport costing the city $2,424. A grant from the federal government will pay the remaining $46,060 to conduct the study. A morning dove detected striking a plane at the airport is the cause for the need of the study, Giskie said.
“The City of Liberal has received a grant from the FAA to conduct a wildlife hazard assessment study for the airport,” airport manager Debbie Giskie said. “The resolution will authorize the acceptance of the grant offer.
“USDA will be doing the study,” she explained. “It is a 13-month study, someone will be here every month to do the study. The bird strike was on a national data base recorded by Great Lakes Airlines.”
Giskie informed the commissioners that if not approved, FAA funding will no longer be available for the airport.
“This is a requirement,” Giskie said. “We must do this.”
Six members were appointed to the Diversity Council, formerly known as the Cultural Relations Advisory Board, in an effort to bring more participation to the council, according to City of Liberal liaison to the Diversity Council Karen LaFreniere.
“There has not been very good attendance,” LaFreniere said. “We are trying to get our board enthusiastic. We have six applicants.”
The commission voted to approve the appointments of Jack H. Cooley, Erika Rosales, Luz Riggs, Arturo Ponce, Janet K. Lewis and Elaine Schooley to the Diversity Council.
In a recent joint city and county commission meeting, concern was expressed regarding the large amount of members appointed to the Joint Economic Development Council.
City Manager Mark Hall will draw up a resolution to allow the city commission to appoint three members to the council and the county commission to appoint three members to the council in an attempt to minimize the board, which currently has 15 members, and reform the council.
“I think this board can be really functional for the plans we have for economic development,” Hall said. “We haven’t had a direction, that is why we are bringing it to the city and county to look at, what would you like this board to be?”
Commissioners from both the county and city agreed the board had too many members and additional help could be found by forming sub- committees. Both commissions will be looking into the matter in the very near future.