Archive for Wednesday, June 6, 2007

County shelves new staffer idea, for now

June 6, 2007

A controversial job proposal to increase staffing for the county commission will be put on the shelf for the time being, it seems.

Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson's said Tuesday in a public session that he does not plan on making or supporting a motion to create a staff director in the near future but said a county administrator position is still scheduled to be on the ballot in August 2008.

"I will still educate the public on.. why I think (a county administrator) is a good idea," Tellefson said. "But whatever the voters decide, that's what we'll do."

The idea of a staff director, or what Tellefson referred to as a "direct representative of the Leavenworth Board of County Commissioners," would have been responsible for gathering information for the commission, handling budgeting for the county treasurer and serving as a liaison between commissioners and other elected officials.

Commissioner Dean Oroke, who criticized the position at a May 21 meeting as merely a way to insert a county administrator without bringing the issue to a vote, said Monday, "The chairman and I have had some good discussions on this.

"If we feel we need to have someone like this later on, we'll do so. I see this position as more a finance director, though. ... I look at this as being one way to relieve the burden of the work done in the (treasurer's) office."

Commissioner Clyde Graeber, who said he has worked on bringing in a county administrator since his first day on the job, commended Tellefson for his efforts in drafting a proposal for a staff director.

"(If this passed) we would join the number of counties in the state that hire professionals to assist with elected officials," he said.

The question of adding a county administrator has been brought before the public twice before -- in 1998 and 2002 -- and twice county voters have rejected it.

In other business Tuesday, commissioners:

  • Heard a quarterly update from representatives of CBIZ, the Kansas City, Kan.-based insurer that provides health care coverage to 306 county employees, their spouses and their children.

Commissioners sought to satisfy county employees, some of whom said constantly changing prescription costs, high premiums and the price of using a family plan were all problems with the current system.

Options discussed included allowing other options like Health Savings Account plans or High Deductible Health Plans.

Melody Kelly, with CBIZ, said that while the claims vs. premiums ratio has lowered over the past four years, there was a spike in March 2007, possibly due to one claimant that has need unusually expensive medication.

"Our main concern is that March popped back up (over a 100% loss ratio)," Kelly said.

  • Discussed progress made on communications upgrades for the county, including the status of a lease renewal for the Boling Grange tower site.

"I feel we need to have a meeting (with the sheriff's office)," Oroke said. "We need a briefing on what's been done and where we stand."

  • Voted, 3-0, to renew the contract of Council on Aging director Linda Lobb for one year.

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