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Salmon resident Ken Hill has been named to the Salmon City Council. Hill will fill the vacancy recently left by former councilman Ken Gutzman.

Mayor Leo Marshall’s recommendation of Hill was not unanimously supported.

By state statute the mayor has the power to appoint a councilman with consent of council members present and voting.

At the June 1st Salmon City Council meeting Councilman Ron Radford was not present due to an illness in his family. A four man council was brought up by Councilman Jim Baker as one of the reasons he opposed the action.

He said he knows and likes Hill however he felt the vote should be postponed until all council members were present. Furthermore he said he opposed filling the vacancy at all because it would color the upcoming election in November. Baker said there are a lot of qualified and eligible people he believes will run for the council and he’d like to see the city let the seat remain vacant until the electorate has a chance to decide. The budgeted salary for the council seat from now until the end of the year amounts to approximately $3,000 which Baker said would not be money well spent.

Councilman Fred Waidely then weighed into the discussion saying he felt a full city council is needed at all times. He said the council’s expertise and knowledge, deliberations and decisions come from a full membership of six people each coming from different walks of life, all with different native intelligence, different educations and different areas of expertise. He said those differences give the council its versatility.

Waidely also brought up the quorum changes resulting from a council membership of five. He said that with five council members the number needed for a quorum drops from four to three and that opens a possibility of the council being controlled by as few as two members. Waidely said the power to make a city council appointment rests with the executive branch, the mayor. The council may then reject or confirm the appointment but that either decision should be based on merits, not financial considerations.

In addition Waidely said the Association of Idaho Cities (AIC) recommends against leaving a council seat vacant. He said both the Salmon City Charter and City Code call for six council members. As far as salary for a new councilman Waidely said those funds are already budgeted and in his opinion would be well spent on securing a sixth councilman.

The ‘quorum’ issue mentioned by Waidely applies to all elected boards. Gutzman’s retirement reduced the City Council to five members. On a board of five the required number of people that have to be present in order to make voting decisions is three. With six members the quorum number is four. By state law quorums are not allowed to discuss matters in which the full board is involved under any circumstance other than in an official, advertised board meeting.

Some of the city committee memberships contain three city councilmen which with a council of five constitutes a quorum. The council representation could be reduced to two councilmen however according to City Attorney John McKinney that would ruin committee effectiveness.

McKinney believes it is a good idea to have a full council at all times. He said even though the Association of Idaho Cities will tell cities that having a full council is not a legal requirement, in his legal opinion the city is much better off with a full council in place.

Marshall recalled that he began his City Council career by being appointed in mid-summer of 2001. The following November he ran for the office to which he had been appointed and has remained on the council ever since by way of public election.

When the time came for a vote to appoint Hill, Baker and Councilman Jim Kluesner voted against the mayor’s recommendation. Councilmen Bud Bartlett and Fred Waidely voted in favor of the appointment.

The only time a mayor may cast a vote is on the occasion of a tie. Mayor Marshall broke the tie with a vote in favor of his recommendation to appoint Hill.

Even though the city attorney’s counsel had been sought and heard throughout the proceedings Marshall’s vote brought forth questions of legality.

The following morning Attorney McKinney said he had thoroughly double checked all aspects of the proceedings through several legal sources and had been assured everything regarding the council appointment had been done in accordance with state statutes.

Ken Hill will serve on the City Council through this year’s November election and to the end of 2011. In November the mayor’s position as well as four seats on the council will be up for election.

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