The Cherokee City Council took no action on Tuesday regarding a proposal to hire an interim city administrator, but the council did hear comments from audience members regarding whether such an action is necessary.
Bob Leach could not be in attendance at the Tuesday meeting and left word that he would like the matter to be tabled until the next meeting. The matter was tabled as far as possible action but those wishing to speak to the matter were allowed to do so.
Ben Seel, a Cherokee native, is seeking the position of interim city administrator, filling the position while someone is sought to fill the position on a permanent basis. He has a bachelor's degree in communications and is pursuing a graduate degree in public administration.
"Whether I do it or someone else does, the administrator's job has to be done. Someone has to be in charge of the city," Seel said.
The position of city administrator has been vacant since Ron Strickland resigned amid controversy in April.
Seel noted that the controversies regarding the last two city administrators have left a bad taste in people's mouths and some people are questioning the need to fill the position since the city has functioned without an administrator for several months.
Seel commended the city clerk, mayor and department heads for stepping up to bat when the need arose but contended that this situation cannot continue indefinitely.
"The city employees need to know what to expect. Instead of a unified city government, there are departments going in their own directions."
Seel said the city government needed continuity and also needed planning for the future. He pointed out that the city has not created a comprehensive plan since 1979.
Mark Buschkamp, director of the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation, agreed with Seel.
"The city needs leadership," Buschkamp, a former city administrator in Plainview, Neb., said.
He noted that Cherokee was in particular need of a long-term plan for infrastructure.
John Cook, an attorney who spoke to the council earlier giving an update on the Bacon Aquatic Center and Gillette Park project, warned that not having someone in the position of city administrator is an invitation to litigation.
"This is a burning fuse," Cook said.
Dan Morrow, speaking from the audience, questioned the need for the city administrator position.
"We are pretty well in debt for a city of 5,000 people," Morrow said. He said that if the city did have any extra money, that there might be other priorities to spend it on, such as on the north water tower, which Morrow described as an eyesore.
The matter is expected to be discussed and possibly acted on at the Oct. 24 meeting.