SPRING HILL, Kan. — Spring Hill Kansas now has both a mayor and enough council members to have a meeting.

The small Johnson County city south of Olathe has been struggling for a couple months now to figure out whose in charge and how to move forward after a number of unusual departures and absences.

Thursday’s meeting started the same way as the past seven, with the clerk announcing there wasn’t a quorum to conduct a meeting because of Councilman Steve Owen’s refusal to attend meetings. He detailed his reasons in a letter left with the city attorney January 10.

Joe Berkey, a newly elected councilman, was elected mayor that same day after the man selected by voters in November Tyler Graves announced he was moving to Florida a couple weeks later.

“We have to move forward as a governing body and as a community we can not continue to have all city business held hostage by the refusal of a city council member to show up or communicate directly with me or the governing body,” Berkey said requesting the city attorney to give a presentation on Spring Hill’s option.

‘We’re not in a city council meeting at this time we’re in a meeting of the remaining members which is the body and the mayor who makes the appointments,” Charles Dunlay clarified, perplexing some.

Dunlay gave a legal opinion that two council members out of five council seats could be a quorum and said it happened once in Kansas back in 1984.

“There are three remaining council members Steve Owen, Diana Roth, a quorum of that body is two thus we have a meeting right now that we’re in,” Dunlay said.

Dunlay said the appointed mayor had authority under city charter and ordinances as well as Kansas law to make an appointment. Chad Young was sworn into office after the appointment was approved 2-0. The clerk determined there now was a quorum to have a meeting. Some thanked the council for navigating a difficult situation, while others were less supportive.

“If you gavel in a meeting and you don’t gavel out of the meeting then you are still in the meeting, it’s absolutely ridiculous,” Rodolfo Arevalo said.

“It’s not legal and that’s the whole reason Mr. Owen hasn’t been showing up because the council hasn’t been following the laws,” Steve Boswell said.

Berkey accused Owen of dereliction of duty but said he won’t take legal action to save taxpayers money. Owen hasn’t returned calls seeking comment.

Spring Hill approved emergency snow routes and the transfer of funds for the purchase of police vehicles in its first orders of business after the political stalemate’s conclusion.

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