Archive for Thursday, November 4, 2010

County commission ready to discuss administrator job post-election

A World War I doughboy statue stands outside the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

A World War I doughboy statue stands outside the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

November 4, 2010

The Leavenworth County Commission last week again pushed back a decision on what to do about the county government’s top appointed position, this time to allow for the input of the new commissioner-to-be.

After commissioner Clyde Graeber suggested during Thursday’s meeting that the new commissioner-elect should have a say in the process, the commission delayed further discussion on whether to keep the county administrator job, replace it with a budget and staff director or do something else.

Republican Bob Holland is the commissioner-elect after defeating Democrat Tim Goetz on Election Day.

“Next Tuesday, we’re going to have a commissioner-elect,” Graeber said Thursday. “I would say we should put off any further discussion of this until that individual, whichever one it might be, can participate in that discussion.”

The commission voted 2-0, with commissioner J.C. Tellefson abstaining, to move discussion of the issue to today’s meeting. Tellefson said that he had hoped the commission would settle on a job description Thursday and that he did not want to delay the decision any longer.

“I made a commitment that I would resolve this today,” Tellefson said.

Tellefson’s seat — from the First District in the northern part of the county — was the one up for election on Tuesday. Tellefson did not run for re-election.

Each of the three current county commissioners has proposed a job description for a replacement for Heather Morgan, the county’s first administrator. Morgan was hired in 2008 and resigned last month to take a job in the private sector.

Commissioner John Flower’s proposal calls to keep the county administrator position and to base the job description on the state statute allowing for the appointment of an administrator.

Commissioners J.C. Tellefson and Clyde Graeber have both proposed to replace Morgan with a staff and budget director, though Tellefson’s proposal hews more closely to the state statute’s county administrator description.

For instance, Tellefson’s proposal gives the director the power to hire and fire county department heads, and Graeber’s does not. Graeber’s description calls for the director to work with the county clerk in managing the county budget, and the other two descriptions make no mention of such an arrangement.

Flower said during Thursday’s meeting that he saw no reason to replace the county administrator job with something different.

“I just don’t get it,” Flower said. “We all agreed that the job was a key, critical role and produced positive results.”

Graeber said his proposal concentrated on increasing cooperation between different appointed and elected officials in the county government, through measures such as a monthly meeting between the county commissioners, elected officials and department heads.

“I do believe that by modifying the job description, we could create a more amiable situation in the courthouse, for the betterment of the entire county,” Graeber said.

In response, Flower said that the official should have the ability to make decisions that may make some people unhappy but improve the functioning of the county government, such as firing incompetent workers.

“That is not harmonious,” Flower said. “That is a hard, nasty job.”

The commissioners agreed to distribute the details of their proposed job descriptions to Holland and Goetz and invite the winner of the election to contribute to the discussion today. The county administrator discussion is set for 10 a.m. on the agenda.

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