Archive for Wednesday, October 9, 2002

Commissioners willing to pay for administrator

October 9, 2002

Leavenworth County Commissioners are so hopeful to hire a county administrator that they've offered to give up part of their own salaries to pay for it.

Commissioner Joe Daniels on Monday said commissioners had agreed to each part with $10,000 of their $40,000 salaries to go toward the hiring of a county administrator if voters give approval on Nov. 5.

The ballot will ask voters if the county commissioners should establish the office of a county administrator.

This won't be the first time voters have been asked this question. County clerk Linda Scheer said on Nov. 3, 1998, when the question was asked, citizens voted against the question by a vote of 7,519 to 6,068.

"It passed in two of the four wards in Lansing and in five of the 18 precincts in Leavenworth," Scheer said. "It failed in all the other precincts in the county."

Daniels said an administrator's duties are outlined according to state law. And, he said, of the 105 Kansas counties, 24 have county administrators.

"Most of those counties are the ones that are growing," Daniels said. "Here in this county where we're under such developmental pressures, we've got a lot of need for an administrator."

Daniels said when he ran for county commissioner in 2000, six of the eight candidates for county commission were in favor of hiring an administrator.

"In this election, both candidates want an administrator," Daniels said. "The point is that people who are close to these things see the need for professional guidance and assistance."

Daniels said a county administrator would be able to make decisions when the commissioners are gone. In any business, Daniels said, everyone wants to know who's the boss.

"What I hope is that we can give this administrator enough guidance about what we need to do in making decisions that he or she can do whatever is needed to keep the government rolling when two commissioners aren't here," Daniels said.

Tonganoxie Mayor John Franiuk said he approves of establishing the position of county administrator.

"The city of Tonganoxie has had a lot of administrators in the last 15 years," Franiuk said. "Every one of them has brought something different to the city, and every one of them has brought great assets."

But the salary might be considered high, Franiuk said.

"Good people cost good money," Franiuk said. "There's no doubt about that."

The administrator's salary package, Daniels said, would likely range from $75,000 to $90,000.

"I'm confident that a guy who is on top of things around here can probably save the county more than that amount in just a year," Daniels said.

Daniels said he believes the state's budget will be $1 billion short by the end of the year, a shortfall that will affect counties.

"There's $100 million out there in demand-transfer money that's supposed to go to all the counties and I bet that doesn't happen," Daniels said. "We need someone who will help us figure out how to get the best bang for our buck and to try to help us get the programs that we need. It's going to be a real critical issue."

As far as the commissioners giving up part of their salaries to fund part of the administrator's salary, Franiuk spoke against that.

"I personally believe they should keep their salary and get out of the office more to be where the people are attending more functions," Franiuk said. "I'd like to see them down here participating more in the Tonganoxie, Basehor and Linwood planning areas."

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