Archive for Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Commission to cull list of 60 hopefuls for county administrator

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

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

January 4, 2011

One of the first tasks to tackle for the new Leavenworth County Commission will be the hiring of a new county administrator, and much of the hiring process will take place behind closed doors.

Commissioners said last week evaluations and interviews of candidates for the job would take place in closed executive sessions, largely for the protection of candidates’ identities. The ultimate decision to make a job offer, though, will take place during an open meeting of the commissioners, they said. Discussion of the salary will also be public.

“The real bottom line to this whole thing is, if somebody wants to apply for the job, but he doesn’t want his boss to read about it in the newspaper,” Commissioner J.C. Tellefson said during Thursday’s commission meeting.

Commissioner John Flower said the county had received more than 60 valid applications for the position, and he suggested that the next step in the process would be for commissioners to meet in executive session to pare the list down. Commissioner Clyde Graeber said he’d prefer for that meeting to take place after commissioner-elect Bob Holland takes office next week.

After that, the commissioners could conduct interviews, Flower said.

The current board of commissioners will adjourn for the final time on Monday, after which Holland will replace Tellefson. He will represent the 1st District, in the northern part of the county.

Flower said the commissioners aimed to be transparent as possible during the hiring process, but he said a 1996 Kansas Attorney General’s opinion suggested that public bodies subject to the Kansas Open Meetings Act were permitted to conduct discussion and interviews of job applicants in closed sessions.

Graeber said many of the applicants had requested that their current employers not be contacted about their candidacy, something that would be jeopardized if their identities were released.

“In open session, we can discuss what we’re looking for, the standards that we would like, requirements that we have, that type of thing,” Graeber said. “But when it gets to an individual person, we must go into executive session.”

The commissioners similarly used executive sessions to discuss and interview applicants when they hired the county’s first administrator, Heather Morgan, in 2008.

Morgan’s resignation in October sparked the commissioners to reconsider the job, but they ultimately decided to keep the job description largely the same. The salary range, from about $82,000 to $92,000, also stayed the same.

Leavenworth County voters had twice rejected ballot initiatives to create a county administrator position, in 1998 and 2002. The commission created the position by a resolution in 2008 and hired Morgan as the county’s first administrator later that year.

In other business on Monday, the commissioners:

• Approved, 3-0, a letter from the commissioners and the commissioner-elect to the Kansas Department of Transportation regarding the proposed realignment of Kansas Highway 5.

The letter suggests that the county could contribute up to $50,000 to a KDOT study of the possible realignment, which the county has proposed as part of a bypass loop around the cities of Leavenworth and Lansing that would connect Kansas Highway 7 north of Leavenworth with Interstate 435 in Wyandotte County. The letter also suggests the possibility of turning the realigned K-5 into a toll road if that change would make the project a higher priority for the state.

• Approved, 3-0, new hires for the Emergency Medical Service and Council on Aging.

• Approved, 3-0, the county’s dues to the Kansas Association of Counties, in the amount of $11,684.79.

In other business on Thursday, the commissioners:

• Approved, 3-0, a payment of $200 to Riverfront Community Center in Leavenworth to continue a program that allows for discounted passes to the center for county employees.

• Voted 3-0 to renew the cereal malt beverage license for Maha, L.L.C., for 2011.

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