It was a Tuesday night that started out so routinely, yet ended on such a sour and nasty note as the council finally voted on the controversial automated trash issue by a margin of 4-2.  
At the beginning of the evening, it was clear things were far from routine with quite a large crowd filling the seats at the back of the council chambers.  Word clearly had gotten out that something important was going to be discussed that evening.  
Council Member Jim Valentine called on the public “not to get impatient about Lincoln Place.  The sand is there to protect people and cars.  It is hoped that any bricks that come loose from the building would land in the sand.”Then as a precursor to things to come that night, Valentine turned to the three new council members  and implored them to think of their constituents by the number of votes they received.  Valentine said, “You are here to do the best you can for the people who put you here.  They are putting their faith and trust in you.  Work for the people, be a part of the people.  You are the city of Wellington.  Those are the people who put you here.”
  Council Member Joseph Soria also attended his first hospital meeting on January 18th and came away “pretty impressed.  They are doing a lot of good stuff out there.  They broke even last year, but they are not out of the woods yet.  All departments have stepped up to help the hospital.  I was totally blown away, they are really trying, folks.  They hired a new gentleman—Eric—who is doing a fantastic job.”
Mayor Hansel reported that City Manager Shields and council member Jennifer Heersche were off to Topeka the next day to meet with state legislators.  Hansel then went on to congratulate Wellington Middle School athletic teams on their recent success.  She also called on citizens to support local businesses in the area of the Lincoln Place demolition.  
Jeremy Jones gave an update on the two sanitation trucks that broke down recently.  There was a fuel line leaking on one truck, with a radiator hose damaged on another.  Parts were being overnighted.  
Soria asked for more tracking of the mechanical troubles associated with the trucks, asking for details on how they were inspected.  Jones replied that they “do morning checks on the trucks, pulling up the hood and checking fluids and tires.  Unfortunately, some things do get by us.  We do a pretty good job of catching most things.”
Valentine voiced his concerns, saying,  “We used to have a maintenance department.  Why can’t we get the parts someplace in Wichita?”
Jones said “the parts were more unique.  It was the first time it has happened on both of them.”
Valentine asked about the feasibility of keeping parts like that on hand and who could install them.  
Jones said that the work was done “in house.”
Mayor Hansel then asked city financial adviser John Haas if the city could afford the bond issue without any concerns. Haas mentioned the city’s credit rating as being A+ and said the city could take it on without issue.  
Soria aired his concerns, asking about the large number of bonds the city already has out, mentioning that three of them would be paid off in 2022.  
Valentine objected because of the cost and because the city would be adding debt. He said he “didn’t care where the money came from, whether it was a bond issue or from fees, it is still the people that are having to pay the bond off. My concern is people.” He later said the departments need to stay within their budgets.
Etter challenged that and noted the departments in question had stayed within their budgets, and he said Valentine was not being fair to the employees.
“The staff has done exactly what we have asked them to do. Your pointing fingers is not fair or correct,” Etter said.
Just before the vote, Valentine said, “We’re talking debt here. Where did they get the money to operate?  They get the money to do it from the people who pay the utility bills. it comes down to the grassroots of this community. We do not know what will happen a year from now down the road. I am not willing to step out on a limb for my constituents. We are paid by the people of this community. I do not care what kinds of figures they show. This boils down to one word:  people.”
Etter was not deterred, saying, “This has been a lengthy process. I have been here over 2 years. I have looked at various options and opportunities. Everything I have looked at, this makes sense. It is an investment into the community. I make a motion we go forward.”
Council member Kelly Hawley seconded it.  
The votes were Etter and Hawley ‘yes.’  Valentine, Dodds, Soria, and Heersche voting ‘no.’  Heersche was the last one to announce her vote.  Once she declared herself as being in the negative, the crowd erupted in cheers.  
Hansel said since the “previous council had put so much effort and study into the proposal, it should have voted instead of waiting for the new council to vote.”  At that point, there were loud boos and commotion from the back of the room as people were clearly not happy with that comment.  
Hansel said the city now needs to look at all its options. “We are going to have to put more money into a broken system and this will cost us more money in the long run.”
In opposing the measure Dodds said the city already has big projects going on, and has already “rolled the dice.” He said he thought it was too soon to take on another big project and roll the dice again.
Etter said it makes no sense to keep putting money into old trucks and trying to keep 30 year old technology running.
Dodds said he has “been talking to people since this became public. They don’t want this right now.  We have a large investment in Cowley and we want to see that come to fruition. We’re gambling on people coming in to use our transfer station. Fuel prices are coming up.”  In regards to the trash issue, Dodds said, “Not right now.  Wait until these other things we’re gambling on come up for us. Bring us proposals and we can debate then.”
Hawley blamed past councils to solve problems. “The progressive way is how it should have been handled. “
Mayor Hansel asked Jeremy Jones what he needed from the council; to move forward with the department being down two workers and two trucks.”  
Jones said again that “we have parts on our way, we will continue to make repairs, and we will interview people to fill in full time positions.”  
The council will meet again on February 20th with more ideas to be discussed.