WAPELLA — Despite the presence of only three trustees, the special meeting for the Village of Wapella was called to order on Monday.
Trustees Nancy Falk, Mandy Huff and Bryan Atwood discussed if there were enough trustees present to accept the resignation of Mayor Richard Karr. Karr has moved out of the village.
After reviewing a reference source, the trio determined they could proceed with the resignation and appoint a new mayor.
Karr’s resignation letter was accepted unanimously and Atwood was appointed the village’s interim mayor.
“I’m not going to make promises to nobody here,” Atwood told the audience, “but I guarantee you will not be disrespected by this mayor or this town. We just ask the same courtesy. We have our hands full here. Work with us. Come to us with facts, not hearsay and rumors. There ain’t nothing we can’t work out together. I’m asking for your help and I’ll do the best I can.”
As the board was about to make a move to vacate the trustee seat of Ryan Carter, who moved to Arizona more than a year ago, village attorney Steven Mahrt walked in and said he thought the meeting started at 7 p.m.
“You can’t have a meeting with only three (trustees),” Mahrt said.
“Well, we did,” replied Falk. “That says right there (pointing to a reference book) if there is a vacancy it needs to be filled.”
“Nope,” said Mahrt. “You can’t have a meeting with only three (trustees). You’re going to have to undo what you did.”
Mahrt explained that with six elected trustees in office, there needed to be four in attendance to meet the quorum requirement under state law.
“You have a quorum in office, you just don’t have a quorum of the officers (in attendance),” said Mahrt.
“So what are we supposed to do?” asked Falk
“You can’t fill the vacancy if you don’t have a quorum,” Mahrt reiterated.
“We can’t accept the resignation either?” asked Atwood.
“Right,” said Mahrt. “Whatever you’ve done didn’t really happen because you don’t have a quorum.”
“So we can do this forever until the next election?” asked an audience member without being recognized to speak.
“You can have a get together with the people who aren’t showing up and try to find out what it is they’re willing to show up for,” said Mahrt. “They may be willing to show up for the purpose of paying bills and conducting other business other than appointing a mayor.”
Mahrt said if the absent trustees are not willing to meet, then the village board can’t meet until the new mayor is elected next April.
“You’re being held hostage by a minority right now,” he added.