Archive for Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Administrator qualities debated

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 18, 2011

As the Leavenworth County Commission prepared last week to narrow down its pool of more than 60 candidates for the county administrator position, the commissioners tangled over what sorts of qualities to look for in a prospective administrator.

Commission chairman Clyde Graeber said Tuesday that the commissioners had narrowed the pool down to eight candidates for the job, each of whom would be invited to interview for the position.

Before the board met in executive session Thursday to choose candidates for interviews, Graeber and commissioner John Flower discussed preferred qualifications for the future administrator. Graeber said he preferred someone with experience in Kansas government who could work well with the departments and elected officials in the county, while Flower said he wanted someone who could crack the budgetary whip in lean financial times.

During the commission’s Thursday public session, Graeber said he wanted an administrator who would listen fairly to different county departments and elected officials when it came to requests for funding. He said the previous administrator, Heather Morgan, may have been too quick to deny such requests without review on occasion.

“I’m not trying to change the job description,” Graeber said. “I think we can all work together and accomplish what we really want to do.”

Flower said he appreciated Graeber’s ideal of a more harmonious county government, but he said that more important to him in a prospective administrator was the ability to keep departments’ budgets under control as the county faces the likelihood of a mill levy increase just to maintain its current services in the coming years.

“Why would we have a county administrator if the county administrator is not going to manage the budget?” Flower said.

Commissioner Bob Holland said he agreed largely with Graeber’s list of preferred requirements, and that an administrator could cooperate well while also managing the budget.

Graeber said Tuesday that the commissioners had sent letters inviting the eight remaining candidates to interview for the job, and they were still awaiting replies.

The commissioners entered into executive session for one hour Thursday to discuss the candidates. The commission is conducting all discussion and interviews involving specific candidates in executive session, citing a Kansas Attorney General’s opinion.

Also on Thursday, the commissioners heard the monthly report from the public works department. Items of interest included:

• A Kansas Department of Transportation construction project on two bridges on County Road 5 northeast of Tonganoxie should begin in March or April, public works director Mike Spickelmier said. The bridges are on County Road 5 near Donahoo Road.

Spickelmier said the bridges would be closed for nine months to a year, and the suggested detour would be County Road 9 to the west.

• The county will provide increased maintenance on 166th Street between Kansas Highway 32 and U.S. Highway 24-40 south of Basehor while the bridge on 158th Street over Interstate 70 is closed.

The bridge is scheduled to close for a Kansas Turnpike Authority replacement project sometime this week, and Spickelmier said the county anticipates more drivers on that portion of 166th Street, most of which is a gravel road.

Also during Thursday’s meeting, the commissioners:

• Approved, 3-0, the county’s 2010 Noxious Weed Eradication Report and 2011 Noxious Weed Control Plan.

• Authorized, 3-0, the release of a request for proposals for a codes enforcement officer vehicle.

• Authorized, 3-0, the release of several requests for proposals for the public works department, for engineering services, noxious weed chemicals and construction equipment.

• Appointed, 3-0, Jay Schwinn as a 1st District representative on the Planning Commission. Holland, the commissioner from the 1st District, recommended Schwinn.

• Voted, 3-0, to enter into executive session for 10 minutes to discuss potential litigation.

The commission met on Tuesday this week instead of Monday, when county offices were closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

On Tuesday, the commission appointed Tom McEvoy as the Kickapoo Township Clerk and Laura Elkins as the board’s representative on the Kansas Sampler Festival Steering Committee. Both votes were 3-0.


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