Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2007

County delays administrator vote until ‘08

Commission decides April too early to sell plan to public

February 15, 2007

Leavenworth County voters will wait an extra 16 months to determine whether a county administrator position is necessary.

The County Commission decided unanimously Monday to suspend a ballot initiative on the administrator's post, originally scheduled for the April 3 general election, until August 2008.

Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson, who has spearheaded the effort to have a public vote on the county administrator initiative, called the initial decision to add the question to the April ballot his "first mistake" in his first month in office.

"I had hoped when I came up with this (ballot initiative) that in February, I'd be knocking on doors and educating the community," Tellefson said Monday. "The mistake was, I didn't see everything coming. We need to be talking about NBAF (the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility) and County Road 1. If we had a little more time, we could get this done, but we're doing a lot of tremendous things right now."

Comm-issioners Clyde Graeber and Dean Oroke agreed a vote on the issue in April would be moving along too quickly.

"I'm not sure if we've allowed enough time to get word out to the public of the possible benefits or possible nonbenefits of the position," Graeber said.

The initiative to create a full-time chief of staff for the county has been voted down twice in the past 10 years, in 2002 and 1998.

Graeber expressed his belief that "this election coming up, whatever happens, will be the last one we will be able to have in regard to this issue."

It has yet to be determined exactly what duties the county administrator might hold. The administrator's potential salary remains unanswered as well.

According to Tellefson, that individual might serve as a gatekeeper, making the commission as a whole more organized and efficient.

Having an administrator "allows you to sleep well at night," Tellefson said, pointing to success with a similar position in Shawnee and Sedgwick County.

In other business Monday:

¢ Deputy County engineer Mike Spickelmier was unanimously appointed as a primary contact person to work together with residents and county officials on the planned expansion of County Road 1. Planning and Zoning cirector Chris Dunn will serve as a secondary go-between, especially for issues regarding land use along the access corridor leading to the proposed Interstate 70 interchange.

"We can't turn our backs on the property owners on County Road 1," Dunn said. "We're looking for ways where the cost of development doesn't get transferred to residents."

¢ Human Resources director Diane Collins joined representatives with CBIZ, a Kansas City, Ks.-based healthcare provider, in presenting a claims overview for county employees' healthcare coverage in 2006.

The county worked with CBIZ in exploring new ways of reducing premiums and optimizing expenses for its 302 employees that receive healthcare benefits, including the possibility of increasing the disparity in cost between buy-up and core plan customers.

¢ A new historic cartographer position was opened in conjunction with the Geographic Information System (GIS) and the Leavenworth County Legal Departments. The new hire will manage and oversee all historic mapping projects in Leavenworth County.

"For example, almost weekly we have people come in looking for relatives who died 100 years ago," said GIS director Jeff Culbertson. "(This person) could create a cemetery database where someone can come in, and we can tell them exactly where they're buried."

The position will be funded through the Register of Deeds technology fund, with all grant writing provided by Keyta Kelly, county counselor at large.

¢ Following Public Works director Bill Green's recommendation, the commission, in a 2-1 vote with Graeber opposed, accepted a base bid of $186,273 from Dean Machinery of Kansas City, Mo., for a new motor grader to be used on road repavement and repairs. Graeber voted no because of a discrepancy in one of the submitted bids.

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