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2/17/2014 6:00:00 AM
Kingman City Council split on residency requirements
City Council split on residency requirements to serve on boards, commissions
Dick Anderson
Dick Anderson

Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - What's more important for a member of one of Kingman's boards or commissions: Expertise or a Kingman address?

The correct answer is both, and neither answer is wrong, but attracting viable Kingman residents and those just outside the city to serve has proved difficult for the City Council. More importantly, perhaps, some boards require more of their members.

In a rare showdown Feb. 4, the City Council split 3-3 on whether to keep or dismiss Mark Retersdorf, a member of the city's Economic Development and Marketing Commission. Retersdorf recently moved from Kingman to Lake Havasu City because his wife's job transferred her there. He still works in Kingman, at Mohave Community College. He is, by all accounts, an essential member of the commission.

Ultimately, City Attorney Carl Cooper volunteered to rewrite a vaguely worded city code dealing with membership requirements that allowed City Council members to develop opposing yet viable cases for either argument.

Vice Mayor Carole Young will play the role of tiebreaker when the City Council revisits the question at Tuesday's meeting.

Young had a planned absence from the Feb. 4 meeting, which led to the tie vote and eventual stalemate.

Councilwoman Jen Miles and Councilmen Richard Anderson and Mark Wimpee supported retaining Retersdorf and his expertise. Mayor Janet Watson, Councilwoman Erin Cochran and Councilman Larry Carver voted to cut him loose, reasoning that membership in the city's boards and commissions should be reserved for citizens and those just outside of the city with either a Kingman address or on the city's water service.

Here's Anderson's take:

On the ordinance being rewritten:

"The current ordinance is vague. Too vague, but prior Councils and city managers recognized the need to have some leeway and flexibility to ensure that required technical skills and abilities that are needed for some commissions can be recruited - that it may require a little different approach. They were so right."

On Retersdorf continuing to serve:

"My concern is not about a specific person, but the ability to recruit required skills. Imposing residency parameters makes a tough recruit even tougher. Getting the right skill set is the ultimate objective."

On the argument that boards should be filled by residents of the Greater Kingman Area:

"Of course the optimum situation is to have large numbers of enthusiastic, local applicants with significant knowledge, skills and abilities for each of our commissions. The mission of each commission varies, however, as does the amount of any experience or technical requirements to accomplish the mission. Commissioners are not paid. This is entirely voluntary on their part. Several of our commissions augment a full time presence already in the city structure and require a minimum of technical expertise. Others, like Planning and Zoning, Municipal Utilities and Board of Adjustment require a working knowledge or experience in specific disciplines."

On the important role of the tourism and economic development commissions:

"Two commissions have a very significant role in the financial well-being of the city. These are the Tourism Development Commission and the Economic Development and Marketing Commission. The Tourism Development Commission receives a 2 percent hotel bed tax to fund various projects and initiatives to promote tourism and to fund a full time tourism director and visitor center operations. Tourism operations cost just under $200,000 a year. A 2011 tourism study for Mohave County conducted by Northern Arizona University found that tourism provided $168 million to Kingman businesses and only $85 million to the rest of the county.

"Obviously, the work of the commissioners is a major factor in bringing money to the city and to help keep city taxes low. Kingman residents expect the city to compete and bring jobs and services to Kingman. We do not have a viable capability to realistically compete. Changing a city ordinance will only serve to make it more difficult to meet resident expectations."

What he hopes happens:

"The end result is to have fully functional and viable commissions to assist the city with its responsibilities to the residents. I hope whatever decision we make will lead to that end."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Article comment by: Kingman is KINGMAN

Kingman commisisions should not allow golden valley residents because, Erin, most of them go to bullhead to shop because there is a better selection of stores and Sams. That was a dumb move! Even if they apply, they are not going to get selected good political tactic.

Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Article comment by: John Muir

Twenty years ago the Council had this debate also. One local attorney wanted to get his pal on a Commission. The only problem was he lived outside the City. Ironically he fought annexation constantly, because he did not want to live with City rules. So where is the limits? If I own property in the City, but live in Florida and have expertise, I should be on a Commission? Sorry once you move out of town that's it. Off. If you want to be on a City Board or Commission,you should live where your opinion on a Board has consequences. Want the City Manager to live in Boulder City?

Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Article comment by: THE TEA PARTY IS ON KOCH

"time to get some new DNA in the pool".

Oh my gosh Rick! What if the new DNA contains Democrats?

Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

Seems a simple question is it a city counsel or a county counsel if its a city counsel one ought to live within the city limits if its a county council within the county limits!

Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014
Article comment by: Toodumtu Care

In me humble one must live within the city limits of said city in order to clame residency. Movin to another city for whatever city should negate the Kingman residency law or whatever ya call it.
One needs to live within the enviroment of which one is attempting to govern or influence.

Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014
Article comment by: George Francuski

The council might prioritize those applying:
1st priority - city residents
2nd priority - water customers living outside the city
3rd priority - those living within 10 mi radius of city hall
4th priority - 20 mi
Those living in other incorporated city limits should NOT be considered.

The council should ask Cooper why his neglect in updating and eliminating vague language in our ordinances has caused this problem. Our attorney should constaintly be reviewing ordinances updating and correcting the language.

Mr. Anderson with all due respect I must disagree with your position. Our city commissions are and should be made up of citizens from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. They are not suppose to be experts - that's what the city staff is for - that is what your job is (researching a topic) when it reaches you for final decision. The commissions are just advisory boards of Joe Citizens. The good commissioners (I'd like to think I fit into that category when I served) will research items they are responsible for ruling on. It is more important they display basic intelligence, the ability to analyze, and be accessable and respectful of the public.

Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014
Article comment by: Change The Flavor

Isn't time to get rid of the good ole boy network? Time to change up. Don't change the rules to accommodate friends, wait for new blood.

Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

In my opinion, this is how the "good o'l boy/girl club" operates in Kingman and the county. If you are going to use the logic that if "a person does not live within the city limits then he/she can't understand the city's needs" is rubbish. Allowing only city residents is just another way to guarantee only certain classes of people within Kingman could get the position, time to get some new DNA in the pool.

Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

It is no surprise to me that city attorney Cooper will rewrite a law that the citizens of Kingman are quite happy with. Mr. Cooper has shown in the past that he will do what ever he is told. I think that living in a city that you work for is only fair because it removes any doubt that your working for a city you have a personal stake in. I'm sure that we can find someone to do this job that lives within our borders. The problem might be that it is getting harder to find people who would agree with this city council and the BOS.

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