Archive for Thursday, March 31, 2005

New council will choose administrator

March 31, 2005

Differing viewpoints on how best to fill a vacancy at the city administrator's position has caused the current Basehor City Council to postpone its decision until after the April 5 general election.

Earlier this month, City Council members were scheduled to vote for a second time on a proposal to install Basehor police chief Terry Horner as city administrator. A vote two weeks earlier narrowly failed, 3-2.

Under the proposal, Horner would have assumed city administrator duties while maintaining his role as police chief.

The second vote, however, "did not happen and will not happen," Basehor mayor Joseph Scherer said.

During an executive session Monday, March 14, City Council members reached a general consensus to wait until after the April election -- after which a new mayor and at least one new council member will take office -- so the new officers would be included in the decision on who they will work with throughout the next four years.

Scherer, who supported Horner's bid to become city administrator and previously cited a desire to install a replacement for former city administrator David Fuqua before leaving office, stood by his candidate this week.

"I still feel Mr. Horner would be a very good fit for this city," the mayor said.

Horner, who to this point has refrained from commenting on his possible promotion in municipal government, was not available for comment.

After Fuqua resigned at the end of last year, council members were split on the best course of action in replacing him. Some, most notably Scherer and City Council president Julian Espinoza, felt the position needed immediate attention.

"I still feel that way," said Espinoza, adding that a part-time mayor and council, without a full-time city administrator, isn't enough to oversee a budget, four departments, current residential and commercial growth, long-term planning and the general day-to-day operations of the city. "There's just too much going on without someone there in charge."

City Council member Iris Dysart said she believes the council's decision to wait until new Council members take office before hiring a new city administrator wasn't a slight against Horner as much as it was giving the incoming members their due say on candidates for the position.

Dysart said the proposition that Horner serve dual roles wasn't an ideal one, either.

"I just think it would be very difficult for Terry," she said. "We're getting so big it would be difficult for him to do both jobs at once." She added, "It's a time consuming thing, a very good thing."

The council member said she envisions the city hiring an administrator with years of past experience.

"I'm looking for someone who's definitely had experience in city management similar to what David Fuqua did," Dysart said.

In 2004, the city hired the Kansas League of Municipalities to coordinate its search for a city administrator, which landed them Fuqua.

It took seven months to hire a city administrator, which was almost as much time as the city gained from Fuqua in service, approximately 10 months.

Dysart said she thinks the process will be easier this time around. She doubts the city will again require the serives of the League of Municipalities.

"It should be smoother because there will be some (council members) left that have had hiring experience," she said.

No one at City Hall can accurately determine when a new city administrator might come on board.

Espinoza said the delay could cost the city in the long term.

"Who's going to run the city in that time frame?" he said. "I think that's a fair question to ask."

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