A Town of Kiowa board of trustee member has lost his seat on the board because of an Oklahoma state law requiring all newly elected municipal officials to attend amandatory class.
Kiowa Mayor Janelle Beaver made the announcement during Monday’s regular meeting of Kiowa Board of Trustees at the Kiowa City Hall.
Beaver said former board of trustee member Ray Goss, who did not attend the meeting, had one year from the date he was elected in April of 2011, to attend the class.
Notifying Goss that he was no longer on the board because the town was following the law. is a good thing for the citizens of Kiowa, according to John Thomas the town’s newly appointed attorney.
“The statute was put into place for a reason,” Thomas said.
“I want our citizens of Kiowa to know that they are getting a government that respects both the intent of the law as well as the letter of the law.”
Thomas said because Goss continued to serve on the board past April, any motions he made or votes on agenda items must be looked at.
“We are now going to have to re-look at all the decisions the board made since April,” Thomas said.
The one day class that municipal officers must attend, covers municipal budget requirements, the Oklahoma Open meeting Act, the Oklahoma Open Records Act, ethics, procedures for conducting meeting, conflict of interest and purchasing procedures, according to Carolyn Stager executive director of the Oklahoma Municipal League. “We offer it six times a year at different locations through out the state,” Stager said.
“The law has been place since 2006,” she said. “It basically reduces liability issues for cities and towns, because without training on municipal laws, officials who aren’t trained can get into trouble.”
“Other boards such as school boards have had to attend trainings for years,”Stager said.“Municipalities are the last to come into the fold.”
Besides educating municpalities, the Oklahoma Municipal League website also lists all the names of newly elected members of Oklahoma cities and towns which have taken the required class.
According to the Oklahoma statute, each person elected for the first time to a position of a municipality on or after January 1, 2005, or appointed for the first time on or after July 1, 2006, to must attend an institute for municipal officer “...They shall cease to hold the office...” according to Title 11 O.S., Section 8-114.
An officer is defined in 11 O.S. Section 1-102 as “any person who is elected to an office in municipal government or is appointed to fill an unexpired term of an elected office, and the clerk and the treasurer whether elected or appointed.”
The law also states that if the “officer” or “official” does not comply with the law the holder of the position or duty is not an officer or official of the municipality for any purpose.”
Meanwhile during the meeting, the board members asked the town’s attorney about the possibility of reappointing Goss after he took the class.
Thomas said purpose of the law is not to find a way around it, it’s to cause municipal officials to be responsible for their position.
“We need to follow the law, Thomas said. “That was the intention of the legislature.”
Also present at the meeting was Trustee for Ward 1, Bob Ramey, Ward 2 Trustee, and Mayor Janelle Beaver, Trustee for Ward 3, Theresa Ortiz and Trustee for Ward 4, Jim Ryan.
The Board of Trustees for the Town of Kiowa meets at 7 p.m. the last Monday of the month at the Kiowa Town Hall 813 S. Harrison Road.