Archive for Wednesday, June 12, 2002

County Commission approves placing administrator issue on November ballot

June 12, 2002

Should the Leavenworth County Commission hire a county administrator?

Although there aren't many detail concerning the proposed position, Leavenworth County voters will be asked that question when they take to the polls in November.

The three-member Leavenworth County Commission unanimously approved putting the question on the ballot during a meeting Tuesday, June 11.

The duties of a county administrator aredependent on the requirements of that county's commission.

However, a report filed with the Kansas Association of Counties (KAC) in March 2000 lists the following as the five basic duties of a county administrator:

Preparing budgets by estimating revenues and recommending expenditures.

Recommending policies to the county commission.

Assisting the county commission in setting its agenda and organizing meetings.

Representing county governments in communicating with cities, townships, schools and special district officials.

Organizing, managing and coordinating county personnel and services.

The Leavenworth County Commission does have the authority to hire a county administrator without an election, but commission members said voters should decide the issue.

"I'd like the public to make the decision because it is a change in county government," said Bob Adams, Leavenworth County Commission chairman.

Commission members Bob Navinsky and Joe Daniels agreed with Adams.

"I've always stated my intention is to put this question on the ballot and ask the voters," Navinsky said.

"I think this would be advisable at this juncture in Leavenworth County," he added.

Despite Adams approving the motion Tuesday afternoon, the chairman said he would be in favor of hiring a financial officer to help with the county's $40 million budget.

"That's where I anticipate a financial adviser would be very good," he said.

The question will be placed on the November ballot instead of the election in August because, historically, voter turnout for November elections are almost double, county officials said.

Currently, there are 14 counties in the state with a county administrator on staff.

The list includes Wyandotte and Johnson counties.

Seven of the state's largest counties have county administrators, according to the KAC report.

And it seems those with county administrators are growing the most rapidly, Navinsky said.

"Hiring a county administrator is a natural evolution to county government," he said.

The upcoming election will not be the first time the issue of county administrator has gone before voters.

In addition to being an item discussed during the election of county officials in 2000, the question was on the ballot in November 1998.

Voters rejected the proposal in 1998 by a margin of 7,421 to 5,956.

Should voters approve the issue this time, commission members would be responsible for interviewing and hiring the county administrator.

Commission members did not set a salary limit for the position Tuesday afternoon.

Whether the county hires and administrator, Adams said Leavenworth County government isn't in bad shape.

"I don't think Leavenworth County as a whole is very sick," he said. "I don't think county government is very off track. It just needs a little tweak here and there."

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